Turkey takes all precautions against coronavirus

Turkey disinfects all customs gates, takes all necessary precautions against coronavirus, says trade minister

Merve Ozlem Cakir and Muhammet Emin Horuz   | 26.02.2020
Turkey takes all precautions against coronavirus Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan answers the questions of press members after a meeting with European Union Ambassadors in Ankara, Turkey on February 26, 2020. ( Muhammed Yaylali - Anadolu Agency )


Turkey has taken all kinds of measures against the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, including disinfection of all customs gates, in collaboration with the health and interior ministries, said the country's trade minister on Wednesday.

After meeting with the ambassadors of EU countries in the capital Ankara, Ruhsar Pekcan answered the questions of reporters regarding the measures at the customs against the spread of coronavirus.

Responding to a question on entrances from Nakhchivan through the Dilucu customs gate, she said by no means is entry into Turkey allowed.

"All necessary precautions have been taken and custom teams have been equipped with clothes and masks," she added.

Iran's neighbors, including Turkey, have closed their borders to the country amid mounting concerns over the spread of the virus.

Product diversification

Pekcan also noted talks were ongoing on strengthening and deepening supply chains among countries that import goods from China.

With a mutual understanding on product diversification reached with envoys from the EU, Pekcan said Turkey was a "reliable and [...] competitive supplier."

She added that Turkey enjoyed the advantages of its proximity with the EU, but that the process continued.

"Only offers are being received at the moment. No deals have turned into orders. Talks are being conducted on delivery times," she said, underlining that the effect of these efforts on exports could be felt in the second quarter of 2020.

Pekcan added: "On the other hand, Iran and China are countries Turkey exports to. While the effects of halting exports are felt on very the same day, increasing [exports] is bound to a process. This must be taken into consideration."

Iran has reported the highest number of fatalities from the virus outside China, more than South Korea, Japan and other countries with a higher number of confirmed cases.

Four more people in Iran have died of the coronavirus, bringing the death toll in the country to 19, the Iranian Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Kianoush Jahanpour, an Iranian Health Ministry spokesman, said the total number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 139, with the cities of Qom and Gilan most affected by the coronavirus.

The virus has claimed nearly 2,800 lives around the world with more than 2,700 in China alone.

Custom Union agreement

Touching on a sought after update of the Custom Union agreement between Ankara and Brussels, Pekcan urged ambassadors to work with Turkish businesses.

She underlined that the current agreement now failed to meet either parties' potential.

"We believe that in the current state of the global economy, the integration between the EU and Turkey their deepening of trade and economic relations is of the utmost importance and necessary for either sides' interests," she stressed.

Turkey is open to cooperation with EU countries in third countries in line with common interests, Pekcan said.

Also attending the meeting, Christian Berger, the head of the EU delegation to Turkey, said: "In 2019, for the first time ever, Turkey saw a surplus in trade with the EU."

He added that 66.6% of direct foreign investments to Turkey came from EU members, noting that the European Commission shared the opinion that updating the Customs Union would be advantageous for both Brussels and Ankara.

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