ENC Roundtable Policy Discussion – Setting the EU-Turkey Economic Agenda: Customs Union Reform

On the 25th January 2017, European Entrepreneur CEA-PME, together with its Member MÜSİAD, was delighted to to support and co-organise the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC)'s policy discussion roundtable on the future of the relationship between the EU and Turkey that took place at the European Parliament.

Attended by economic experts and academics, including private sector groups and business associations, the event aimed at opening the floor to questions from the private sector and informing parliamentarians and commission officials about the concerns from each side. In turn, this is aimed at pre-empting unforeseen obstacles throughout the negotiation phase and to reinforce inter-institutional coordination and transparency between the private and public sectors when dealing with customs union reform between Turkey and the EU.

The business community was represented by Mr Stefan Moritz, Managing Director of CEA-PME, and by Mr Mustafa Alperen Özdemir, EU and Brussels representative for MÜSİAD.

Mr. Özdemir focused on how the new agreement between the EU and Turkey will enhance trade relations, as well as the positive effect that trade can have on diplomacy, considering Turkey’s role as the EU’s strategic partner in its neighbourhood.

Mr. Moritz said that “equal treatment between the EU and Turkey” remained vital in this process, while focusing on the importance of impartial win-win economics instead of politics.

Mrs Kati Piri, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur for Turkey (S&D), also expressed her views about how the European Parliament will engage with the reform process, which could draw Turkey and the EU closer, while fostering jobs and economic growth across the spectrum.

The event concluded with a panel debate of experts moderated by ENC Director Mr. Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, and composed by Dr. Cigdem Nas, Secretary General of the Economic Development Foundation (IKV), Dr. Sait Akman, Director for G20 Studies Centre at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and Professor Murat Yülek, Professor of Economics and at Istanbul Commerce University.

All speakers noted that the customs union reform is likely to cover many new areas of trade, including public procurement, agriculture, services and manufacturing sector – involving nearly all facets of EU and Turkish economic activity.

The panel emphasised that one of the reasons for reform has been the problem of trade diversion, the disadvantageous situation in which Turkey loses its competitive trade as a result of new free trade agreements signed by the EU and third countries outside the EU. Another fundamental reason has been the EU’s need to re-boost growth at home and increase economic ties with its strongest defence partner in Europe.

Dr. Nas noted that the customs union remains an essential area of cooperation, as most business associations remain very favourable inclined towards the modernisation, while the Turkish government also supports the initiative.

According to Dr. Akman, the overall majority of impact assessments on customs union reform indicate that both the EU and Turkey are to benefit – in terms of employment and GDP – from a modernised customs union. One issue however remains the lower competitive level of Turkey in the area of agriculture and public procurement.

Overall, benefits to the consumer will include price decreases and productivity increases, while vehicles, electrical equipment, textile, footwear, food sectors, fruit and vegetables, nuts, construction, transportation, tourism; financial services and recreational services are estimated to profit greatly from the reform.

Following these insightful considerations, European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME continues to work with its counterparts in Turkey, as well as with the European Institutions and other organisation, to ensure a advantageous relationship between Europe and turkey that benefits SMEs on both sides.

Picture gallery:

An interview with Mr Stefan Moritz, highlighting the reasons why the customs union would be advantageous for both sides:


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