Turkey calls for inclusion in US-EU trade deal

Turkey should be part of the free trade deal being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said Tuesday.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which U.S. President promoted on a trip to Europe this week, is at the center of controversy, with critics claiming it would force down wages and weaken environmental protection, consumer protection and labor rights while supporters say it will increase trade and create millions of jobs by removing trade tariffs.

“Of course, Turkey cannot remain being left out while such agreements are signed around us,” Simsek, who has responsibility for the Turkish economy, said.

Addressing journalists at a high-level EU-Turkey economic meeting in Ankara, he added that TTIP could help Turkey become more competitive, efficient and innovative.

Negotiators have been working on the deal since July 2013 and hope to have it completed by the end of the year.

Although not a member, Turkey has a customs union with the EU that Simsek said had seen trade between the two entities grow to around $150 billion.

Speaking at the same news conference, Jyrki Katainen, the EU commission vice president for jobs, growth and investment, said the bloc was aware of Turkish concerns and would ensure that trade with Turkey was not harmed by the deal.

Turning to the main subject of the Ankara meeting, he said many countries around Europe were experiencing slow growth due to poor competitiveness that could be boosted by structural reform.