Contested Turkey trade deal to finally come into force

Political relations between Switzerland and Turkey have been strained at times in recent years. Swiss streets have seen demonstrations against the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

A controversial free trade agreement (FTA) upgrade between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Turkey will come into force from October 1 after surviving stinging criticism and delays.

This content was published on August 25, 2021 - 16:58

Despite being signed off in 2018, the new terms of the agreement had been held up by Switzerland, which is a member state of EFTA along with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The decision to delay ratifying the deal followed a heated row in the Swiss parliament about Turkey’s recent human rights record following an attempt to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

The original FTA has existed since 1992. The new version introduces new regulations to facilitate mutual recognition of intellectual property protection, service sector exchanges as well as trade and sustainable development.

For example, Turkey has granted new trade concessions for Swiss imports of cheese, meat preparations, fruit juices, coffee, tobacco, chocolate, biscuits, muesli and certain baby foods.

It also includes measures to avoid customs discrimination for Swiss companies following the formation of a customs union between Turkey and the European Union.

Trading volumes between Switzerland and Turkey totaled CHF3.1 billion ($3.4 billion). “Turkey ranks 22nd among the Swiss business partners and, as a sales market for Swiss companies, is comparable to South Korea or Saudi Arabia,” stated the Swiss governmentExternal link on Wednesday.

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