Negotiating teams from Colombia and Turkey have begun to discuss a free trade agreement between the two states, Spanish news agency EFE reports.
Meetings began on Monday in the Turkish capital of Ankara in what is seen as “a critical step in the effort to strengthen ties between the countries and expand business opportunities,” Minister for Trade, Industry and Tourism Sergio Diaz-Granados told reporters.
Diaz-Granados highlighted Turkey’s potential as a trade partner, pointing to the consensus that Turkey will lead growth among OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) members from 2011-2017 with a rate of 6.7%.
An initial round of formal trade negotiations is set to begin in Bogota on May 30 and will run for a week. Two further meetings are scheduled for July and September.
Among other areas, it is hoped the FTA will cover trade protection, intellectual property, competition, sustainable development both environmentally and in relation to labor and a dispute settlement mechanism.
Bilateral trade between the two nations stood at $271.4 million in 2010, was down from $379.5 million in 2009.
Turkey primarily consumes Colombian coal, light industrial products such as leather and cosmetic goods, and sugar. Its exports to Colombia are comprised primarily of textiles, automotive products, lead monoxide, apparel and electrical appliances.
President Juan Manuel Santos announced plans earlier this month for Colombia to open an embassy in Turkey soon in the hope of fostering relations with its fellow CIVETS member, a group comprised of countries deemed to be the next generation of emerging markets.