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‘Turkey hopes to sign FTA with Korea by yearend’

Turkey’s Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said Friday his country hopes to sign the free trade agreement with Korea on product trading by the end of this year.

“We have had our differences regarding product trading in the past, but it seems the issues have been taken care of in various aspects and the representatives (of both countries) have scheduled to meet in October,” he said in a meeting with a group of reporters in downtown Seoul as part of his first delegation visit to Seoul from Aug. 9-13.

“We’re wishing to conclude the FTA on product trading by this year and move onto signing a FTA on the areas of services and investments next year.”
Zafer Caglayan
Zafer Caglayan

Caglayan also said the country’s energy minister is looking forward to joining hands with a Korean firm on the building Turkey’s second nuclear power plant in the northern province of Sinop.

“The name of the company which will take responsibility for the project has yet to be announced,” the 54-year-old minister said. “We’re hoping that the large-scale Korean companies express their interest in our second nuclear power plant. We expect to build the No. 3 and No. 4 plants in the future.”

The comments came after Taner Yildiz, energy minister of Turkey, confirmed that a Japanese company called TEPCO, which was the preferred bidder, withdrew from the project, citing recent developments in the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The plant was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March.

The Turkish delegation also met business leaders of four major Korean firms early on Friday, following 14 private business meetings with various local companies, according to Caglayan.

“Most of the big four firms are showing interest in the construction sector and of them, POSCO is holding a launching ceremony for a stainless steel plant in Turkey this year and the firm said it would raise its investments,” he said. “Other companies said they are making large investments in the areas of electronics and information technology.”

He further elaborated that he has high hopes for Korea and Turkey to cooperate together to create synergies in other nations.

“We have the geographical and religious benefits and Korea is an important player in Asia,” said Caglayan. “The most essential partnership for the two countries would be in the field of construction, followed by the service sector and the establishment and operations of airports.”

Industry sources say Turkey has high potential for business since it is regarded as the gateway to the European market for many Asian countries for geographical reasons. The country also serves as the way into the Middle Eastern market because it has maintained long friendships with Islamic nations in the region as well as Central Asia through its historic and ethnic ties.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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