Number 235 | July 24, 2013
In an article by Ata Akiner published on the 23rd of July in the Washington Institute’s Policy Analysis, he argues that Washington, Brussels, and Ankara have numerous benefits to gain from a bilateral U.S.-Turkey free trade agreement (FTA), but they will need to act quickly to ensure that their efforts mesh with the U.S.-EU trade talks already in progress
The article highlights three main reasons for encouraging an FTA between Turkey and the U.S.
First is the economic factor, as an FTA would open new markets and make trade between the countries easier and cheaper.
Second, there are strategic considerations. Turkey is a NATO ally that supports Western pressure on the Iranian and Syrian regimes, and a FTA would work to strengthen Ankara's role on both issues and move U.S.-Turkish relations beyond a political-military alliance. Furthermore, the U.S. Natural Gas Act allows all countries that have an FTA with Washington to bypass most of the complicated impediments to importing American gas -- a factor that could prove especially reassuring to Ankara at a time when Washington is pressing it to reduce reliance on Iranian gas.
Finally, an FTA might also promote domestic reform in Turkey, as U.S. FTAs typically address human rights, labor rights, and environmental concerns and Turkey would need to reform if it wants an FTA to pass Congress.
As cited in the article, the first step toward an FTA has already been taken. During the May summit in Washington, President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached a consensus on working toward an FTA. However, if the United States and Turkey do not begin talks before the EU-U.S. negotiations are complete, this would render such a trade agreement far more difficult to finalize in the future.