SA pursues bilateral trade with Turkey outside of FTA

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretoria - Cabinet has chosen to pursue its bilateral trade agreements with Turkey outside of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), it announced on Thursday.

Turkey had proposed a FTA with South Africa, with the view of creating stronger trade and commercial ties through the faster movement of goods.

"Cabinet has approved that South Africa advances a mutually beneficial, cooperative and balanced approach to building trade and investment relations with Turkey and avoid destructive competition that could result from ineffective management of a FTA," Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday.

Manyi said Pretoria still viewed Turkey as an increasingly important partner in the global economy, which shares similar challenges and trajectories for economic growth and development.

Rather than focusing on a FTA, Pretoria believed a mutually beneficial relationship would best be served by collaboration that builds "complementarities in our economies and our trade and investment links".

Trade and investment ties, according to Manyi, should be structured to support the priorities of the two countries' respective economic development strategies and objectives.

"A FTA does not allow for such a nuanced mutually beneficial approach to building economic relations and, instead, encourages destructive competition that will undermine our industrial and employment objectives," said Manyi.

Although South Africa has over 70 companies operating in Turkey, trade and investment between the two counties remains comparatively low, offering scope for growth. Due to the unstable world economic conditions, trade between the two countries fell to about $1.2 billion from $2.7 billion in 2008.

These issues were raised when Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe rolled out the red carpet for visiting Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in October.

During his visit to the country, Erdogan spoke fondly of the continent, describing it as an eternal friend, while committing to up trade and bilateral relations with more African countries.