Turkey, France Discuss Trade Relations

ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–Turkish State Minister for foreign trade Kursad Tuzmen met Tuesday his French counterpart Anne-Marie Idrac in the Turkish capital, Ankara for talks on bilateral trade relations between the two countries.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Tuzmen’said the trade volume between Turkey and France had exceeded 14 billion USD in 2007.

"We believe that we could bring that figure up to as high as 20 billion USD in a near future. Crisis do happen but we work together and continue with our path to see brighter days," Tuzmen’said, adding that

Tuzmen’said 5.6 percent of Turkey’s exports were made to France in 2007, adding that Turkey was the 5th biggest buyer of French goods and services outside the European Union.

Tuzmen also said 2009 was proclaimed as "the Turkish Year in France".

The French minister said her visit to Turkey should be described with reference to "trust and progress in bilateral relations."

Idrac said French investmen’s in Turkey created 70 thousand jobs, adding that France was the second country to have the largest amount of investmen’s in Turkey.

Tuzmen and Idrac later signed a protocol to promote dialogue between the public and private sectors of the two countries in a bid to boost trade and economic relations.

The news of the meeting comes less than a week after the French Senate blocked a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The bill, sponsored by the opposition Socialist party, passed in the French National Assembly on Oct 12, 2006 and provides for a year in jail and a 45,000-euro fine–the same punishment that is imposed for denying the Nazi Holocaust.

Turkey threatened to cut off economic ties with France following the bill’s adoption and maintained strong pressure on the French government to kill the bill, which needed the approval of the Senate and President to become law.

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