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Turkish economy minister says Moscow-Ankara free trade deal may be ready in 2017

The minister says Akkuyu NPP project faces no obstacles
Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci EPA/EVERT-JAN DANIELS
Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci

ISTANBUL, October 12. /TASS/. The free trade agreement between Turkey and Russia may be prepared by the middle of the next year, Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci said on Wednesday.

«Turkey and Russia are making big progress preparing the free trade agreement. We plan to complete the work on the agreement concerning the service industry and the investment sphere before the end of 2017. I assume, by mid-2017 we will complete the work on the free trade agreement," the minister said at a meeting of the bilateral commission for trade and economic cooperation

«We will later determine the spheres, which the agreement will cover. Our goal is to eliminate all the bilateral trade obstacles and extend the agreement to other spheres of our relations," Zeybekci said.

Сurbs on Turkish companies

Zeybekci expressed hope on Wednesday for a full lifting of curbs on Turkish companies in Russia.

«After November 24, 2015 (when Turkey brought down a Russian military aircraft), restrictions were imposed on the activity of Turkish companies in Russia, staffers of these companies had difficulties with getting work permissions," the minister told a session of the Russian-Turkish intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation.

«I am sure we will shortly be able to discuss these issues, and these curbs will be promptly lifted," the minister added.

«I hope very much that we will be able to discuss with the Russian minister this issue of lifting bans, as they don’t correlate to the pace we have achieved by now in the development of our trade relations," Nihat Zeybekci said.

The Akkuyu NPP

Zeybekci went on to say that there are no legal obstructions to implementing the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project.

"From the standpoint of procedures and bureaucracy no problems exist," he said.

Russia and Turkey in 2010 signed an agreement on the Akkuyu project to build what is to become Turkey’s first nuclear power plant consisting of four 1.2-megawatt reactors. Construction work is underway near the port of Mersin in southern Turkey. Russia’s nuclear power plant concern Rosatom participates in the project.

In June 2016 Rosatom said that the first portion of concrete would be poured in the power plant’s basement in 2018 after the construction license has been obtained. The first reactor is scheduled to go on stream by 2023.