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Turkey To Begin Eu Accession Negotiations

Turkey To Begin Eu Accession Negotiations

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is analysing the long-term impacts on New Zealand exporters of a successful bid by Turkey to join the European Union. Trade between New Zealand and Turkey is currently worth about $80 million a year.

Gavin Young, NZTE’s Senior Trade Commissioner for the Middle East and Africa, said his Ankara staff were looking at key sectors of the Turkish economy to see what may change if Turkey’s bid is successful and how trade with Turkey can be enhanced.

On 17 December, the EU Commission made its long-awaited decision allowing Turkey to begin talks, kicking off a process which may take up to a decade to complete. Political and economic reforms are being required of Turkey as conditions of accession, including further democratisation and human rights reforms.

Cyprus, Malta and eight central and eastern European countries joined the EU earlier this year, a process that took six years.

Mr Young said Turkey faced significant hurdles to accession and there was no guarantee Turkey would ultimately succeed. Public opinion in Europe was divided on whether to accept a large, less wealthy and mainly Muslim nation of 70 million into the EU.

Turkey imported New Zealand goods worth $NZ31.6 million in the year to June 2004. Most of this was wool (60%), with animal hides and pelts accounting for much of the remainder. In the same period, New Zealand imported NZ$49.8 million worth of Turkish goods, the main items being grapes, dried fruit, tyres, fabrics and ceramic bathroom fittings.

Mr Young said given current barriers, NZTE’s focus is on technology and services, with medium-term prospects for diversifying trade with Turkey lying in the engineering, building products, education and services sectors. Opportunities exist for New Zealand expertise in the agri-technology, earthquake engineering and public sector reform fields. Turkish students were becoming increasingly interested in studying in New Zealand.

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