Turkey has been vital to the Syrian economy so Damascus’ current decision to suspend its free trade agreement with Ankara is akin to shooting itself in the foot, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said yesterday.
“Syria had increased its exports to Turkey by 55 percent last year, now they are shooting themselves in the foot,” he said, referring to Syria’s economic move in the wake of Turkey’s decision to impose sanctions on Damascus for the latter’s crackdown.
“I have watched the decisions Damascus has made with amazement and surprise. The Syrian regime is punishing its own people with its decisions,” Çağlayan said.
Turkey moved to suspend its free trade agreement with Syria only in response to Damascus’ decision to end the pact with Ankara, Çağlayan said. “However I waited three days before signing the decision to suspend the free trade agreement with Syria. However, we saw that Syria would not budge on this decision. Only then did I sign the decision,” said Çağlayan speaking at a conference in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on Dec. 9. Syria, and not Turkey, will be most affected by the suspension of the free trade agreement, Çağlayan said. Exports from Turkey to Syria were still continuing, but there was a dramatic 40 percent decrease in November, he said. Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım said Dec. 9 that 600 to 700 trucks waiting at Turkish border crossings with Syria entered the country after Yıldırım talked to his Syrian counterpart, Anatolia news agency reported. Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı said they submitted a decree on the suspension of the free trade agreement with Syria to the Council of Ministers.
GAZİANTEP – Hürriyet Daily News