The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) renewed its call to the EU for the modernization of the customs union agreement with the bloc during a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
“For years, together with BusinessEurope [European Business Confederation], we have been advocating for the start of the customs union to update negotiations as soon as possible,” TÜSİAD Chairman Simone Kaslowski told Anadolu Agency (AA) in a statement Thursday.
Turkey is the only non-EU country that has had a customs union agreement, which was inked in 1966, with the union. In its Dec. 21, 2016, assessment, the EU Commission proposed the modernization of the current deal, which only covers a limited range of industrial products and excludes agriculture, public procurement and services.
According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), Turkey’s exports to the 28-country bloc totaled $62 billion while its imports were recorded at $50 billion. In 2018, Turkey’s sales of goods and products to the EU were calculated at $84 billion and its purchase of European goods came at $81 billion.
TÜSİAD delegation held meetings with the members of European Parliament (EP), senior EU Commission officials, academics, and representatives from think tanks at TÜSİAD Brussels Office and discussed Turkey-EU relations and new developments in the world.
Kaslowski noted that the EP’s new Turkey Rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor also participated in the event, adding they had meetings with different people who would affect relations efficiently in the coming period.
Recalling that they also evaluated policies on various issues such as digital transformation, cybersecurity, sustainable economy, climate change, plastic usage and industry, Kaslowski said he was scheduled to attend another high-level meeting held by the European Business Confederation (BusinessEurope) in the EP.
The TÜSİAD chairman pointed out that they coincided with a period in which Turkey was on the agenda in Brussels and that the Europeans were quite curious about the Operation Peace Spring. “The operation in Syria is an issue that everyone is curious about (in Brussels). I do not think they are very familiar with the issue as they are new MEPs,” he continued. “As a matter of fact, the statements and discourses made are not consistent with our observations in Turkey. In that respect, there is an environment and opportunity to share the differences there, our findings, our observations with them very clearly. So, our overseas visits are essential. We attach great importance to this dialogue to provide a more objective perspective, especially during such periods.”
He pointed to the importance of trade relations between Turkey and the EU. “The EU is our most important trading partner. At least 50% of our trade is with European countries,” he added.