Turkey demands removal of additional import tax on steel from US

Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, who met with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington, reportedly discussed the removal of additional import tax on Turkish steel with her American counterpart.

After her speech at the 37th Annual Conference on Turkey-U.S. Relations, organized by Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAİK) and America-Turkish Council (ATC) in Washington on April 14-16, Pekcan met with her American counterpart. One of the topics discussed during the meeting between the two ministers was the necessary steps to be taken to reach the $75 in billion trade target, set by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump.

It was noted that Pekcan mainly focused on lifting the additional customs duties on iron-steel products, a long-debated issue between the two countries, as well as preserving Turkey's position in the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

Meanwhile, joint activities in the field of the digital economy between the two countries were also included in the agenda. It was stated that during the closed-door meeting an agreement was reached between the trade ministries of the two countries to establish a joint working group on these issues. "As part of section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act, we strongly urge the U.S. to change its position on additional taxes on Turkey's steel and aluminum exports," Pekcan said in her speech at the conference. "We also hope Turkey will be exempt from customs measures for the automotive industry. We expect the U.S. to maintain Turkey's status in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)."

Pekcan recalled they had a very productive meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Senior Adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump Jared Kushner and Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak at the White House. "We all agreed to strengthen Turkish-American trade relations. Our trade volume stands at $20.7 billion. Our goal is to raise it to $75 billion. Therefore, we will focus on every sector and product," Pekcan added.

She further stressed that they are working on a new vision to establish specialized free zones and provide tax incentives in addition to the existing ones for these zones, which may serve as Turkish-American cooperation regions. Inviting all American high-tech companies to invest in specialized free zones, Pekcan urged the attendees to support the Turkish Trade Ministry's efforts to establish specialized free zones. "American high-tech companies can either make their own investments or partner with Turkish companies. My colleagues and I are always ready to grant unconditional help should you choose to invest in our free zones," she concluded.

On Aug. 10, 2018, the U.S. president said that he authorized the doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Turkey. The U.S. levied 20 percent on aluminum and 50 percent on steel imports.

Turkey, however, brought the issue to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and won its first appeal against additional U.S. tariffs in December 2018. In retaliation, Turkey also increased tariffs on certain U.S. products by more than 100 percent on Aug. 15, 2018. In March 2018, the U.S. imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports, angering its key trading partners, including Turkey, the EU and South Korea.

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