Economy, Europe

Turkey, EU meet for high level economic dialogue

Officials discuss visa exemption, bilateral investments, political and trade relations, customs union, economic reforms

Muhammed Ali Gürtaş, Tuba Şahin  | 28.02.2019 - Update : 28.02.2019
Turkey, EU meet for high level economic dialogue


Top officials from Turkey and European Council gathered for the third High Level Economic Dialogue Meeting in Istanbul on Thursday.

Attended by the several business people and officials, the meeting discussed the issues of visa exemption, promotion of bilateral investments, political and trade relations, update of customs union, and economic reforms.

"We addressed the importance of the dialogue in light of the recent global developments," Turkey's Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak told a joint press conference.

Highlighting the "quite fair" trade balance between Turkey and the EU, Albayrak said: "We agreed on strengthening economic cooperation in a sensitive approach."

According to the latest data from Turkish Statistical Institute, foreign trade volume between Turkey and the EU was $164.8 billion in 2018, up 3.6 percent year-on-year.

Last year, the country's exports to the EU totaled $84 billion, making the 28-member block Turkey's main trade partner.

Over the same period, Turkey's imports from the EU totaled $80.8 billion.

Also addressing the update of customs union, Albayrak said that the agreement should be realized as soon as possible for the benefit of both sides.

Speaking alongside Albayrak, Jyrki Katainen, vice-president of European Commission, said Turkey is the top trade and investment partner of the bloc with deep relations including concrete cooperation on migration, security, energy, environment, and transportation.

Katainen recalled that a €275 million ($315 million) agreement to be signed following the conference for co-financing the Halkali-Kapikule Railway Line Project, which links Istanbul to the border crossing with Bulgaria, as a core part of the EU’s freight transport strategy.

Underscoring the importance of maintaining political dialogue instead of microphone diplomacy, Katainen stated that talking to each other is always more vital than talking about each other.

He also said that despite its candidate statue for the EU membership, Turkey is seen as a European country.

On the economic reforms planned by Turkish officials, Katainen dubbed them promising, interesting, and needed as well.

*Muhammed Ali Gurtas and Tuba Sahin from Ankara contributed this story

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