Turkey and Ukraine eager to sign FTA

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Ukraine and Turkey could be next on the list to sign a free trade agreement.

Turkey and Ukraine are eager to sign a free trade agreement that could see commerce between the two Black Sea neighbours significantly increase.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy met this month in Ankara to discuss diplomatic relations and a subsequent statement on the Ukrainian presidential website suggested they are keen to strengthen their partnership.

"Bilateral trade volume in 2018 was more than $4 billion [€3.6 billion]. I'm certain that this is far from the limit of our potential," said Mr Zelenskiy.

Indeed, he went on to suggest that two-way commerce could more than double to $10 billion each year were a trade deal to come to fruition, something that could benefit companies in both nations.

The two presidents reportedly spoke about all aspects of their diplomatic relationship, with Mr Zelenskiy saying: "Now is the time to finalise the negotiation process for a free trade agreement."

Last year's bilateral trade volume put Turkey among the world's top trading partners for Ukraine, with top exports from Ukraine to Turkey including grain corn, iron, steel and wood, and the biggest imports from Turkey including pharmaceuticals, vehicles, clothes, chemicals and vegetables.

If a free trade agreement is completed, Turkey would become part of a long list of nations that has agreed such a deal with Ukraine, with Canada, Israel and the member states of the European Union among them.

Mr Zelenskiy has been keen to promote Ukraine as a place to do business, predicting that its economy should be able to grow by around five to six per cent a year once necessary reforms have been implemented.

However, a major stumbling block for negotiating a deal with Turkey has been the ongoing war with Russia.

Mr Erdogan has said Turkey supports Ukraine's "independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty", but added "we wish that the conflict in Donbas will end as soon as possible".