KUALA LUMPUR: Bilateral trade between Malaysia and Turkey has the potential to touch US$5 billion after the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) is inked this year, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said yesterday.
He said that in 2011, the movement of goods and services between Kuala Lumpur and Ankara stood at US$1.09 billion with Malaysia’s exports to Turkey totalling to US$930 million (US$1 = RM3).
“Malaysia is very commited for the conclusion of the negotiations towards the realisation of the FTA.
“I hope, in another three to four months, the negotiations can be concluded Within a short period of time after the signing, trade can increase,” he told reporters after opening the 3rd Turkish Products Exhibition at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
“An FTA would see a reduction in tariffs which will ease the movement of Turkish products to Malaysia and Malaysian products to Turkey.
“Thus, it is believed that the agreement can increase trade as well as boost the commercial ties that the two countries possess,” he said.
Present at the function was Turkey’s Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici.
Mustapa said once the agreement was sealed, Malaysia would be the first Asean nation to sign an FTA with Turkey.
He said both countries would adopt a common approach, namely for Turkey to regard Malaysia as its gateway to the Southeast Asian and Asian markets, and for Malaysia to regard Turkey as a launching pad to the markets of West Asia and the southeastern European region.
“Turkey can be the gateway for Malaysian products and services to enter the broad market of south and eastern Europe.
“It is a market we are not familiar with and which I believe offers good long term potential for trade in particular,” he said.
In return, Mustapa said Turkey could participate in Malaysia’s construction and engineering sectors as well as in halal development.
He said the proposed FTA and projected trade growth were in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s aspirations when he made an official visit to Turkey last year. — Bernama