Tyrkiet og Ukraine skal arbejde tættere sammen om forsvaret. Foto af Meriç Dağlı hos Unsplash

Turkey foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently visited Lviv, where he discussed the potential for trade between Ukraine and Turkey. 

Turkey is an important partner for Ukraine. Earlier this year, the two countries signed several arms deals last year and a free trade deal is said to be close. To deepen trade relations, Turkey foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently visited Lviv, where he met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba at an event between the two countries. 

“At today’s meeting, we discussed all aspects of our bilateral relations and regional issues. I and Dmytro signed a plan of consultations that will revive our work aimed at the development of bilateral relations and regional issues. This year, our trade balance has exceeded the pre-pandemic level,” said Çavuşoğlu, according to Ukrinform

Çavuşoğlu added that more meetings are planned between the two countries. Among other things, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is invited to the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in March. Several companies attended the event in Lviv, and Kuleba said that the two countries are working on removing obstacles in the common trade. 

“During this week’s talks, we paid significant attention to support for business and trade development. We create new opportunities for cooperation between Ukrainian and Turkish companies in a number of areas, remove obstacles to the development of international cooperation, and continue to support Ukrainian business,” Kuleba said. 

Still no free trade agreement

Ukraine and Turkey have moved closer to each other over the last few years. In October last year, the two countries signed several arms deals, which for example would provide Ukraine with the Bayraktar TB2 drones. In January this year, they also signed a social security deal, aiming at securing foreign workers in the other country with social security. 

Despite this progress, the planned free trade agreement between the two countries still hasn’t been signed. The deal is expected to accelerate trade between the two countries and has been underway for a long time. 

“Why do the talks last so long? The deal itself was agreed upon 12 years ago. The text of the agreement has been written out. The problem is the amendments to it and the tariffs that will be applied to each of the groups of goods,” said the Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar, according to Ukrinform, back in September. 

“Both Ukraine and Turkey are large producers of agricultural and industrial goods, primarily, metal products. These are the two largest groups of goods that provoke such lengthy, to put it mildly, consultations. The problem is the balance between the impact on domestic and benefits from future trade. It needs to be achieved,” Bodnar explained.

In April, Zelensky said that Turkey and Ukraine have a trade turnover of 5.5 billion dollars and that the goal is to double it. However, it is difficult, explains Bodnar, because the market in Turkey is very protected. For example, in agriculture, he says that Ukraine faces tariffs of 180 percent for wheat and 120 percent for meat when trying to export to Turkey. 

“The Turkish market is quite closed. Especially with regard to the agricultural group of goods. There are, of course, large producers who are not ready to let cheaper Ukrainian goods enter this market. At the same time, we know that Turkish tomatoes feel quite comfortable in Ukraine. We need to protect domestic producer who also has the right to sell the same tomatoes or wheat, or sunflower oil there. This is actually a large scope (of goods) which is somehow seen as a threat to the domestic market of Turkey,” the Ambassador said.