The Turkish government would be pushing Delhi to hasten a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two nations, while also trying to build investments, during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two-day visit from Sunday.
While the proposal for an FTA had been pitched by Turkey before 2012, dates are yet to be fixed to start negotiations, a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. Delhi is currently involved in similar negotiations with Australia, Canada, Georgia, the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union.
Erdogan will be accompanied by the minister for the economy and an 88-company business delegation, besides representations from government institutions.
However, bilateral trade had shrunk in 2015-16 by 28 per cent to $4.91 billion. Exports to that country were $4.14 bn and imports were $776 million. Turkish exports to India fell 47 per cent; Indian exports fell 22 per cent. Both governments have targeted $23 bn of trade by 2023.
The Turkish government is also keen to boost investments into India, dormant for years, said the official quoted earlier. Total inbound direct investment from there in the 2000-2016 period was $137.1 mn or about 0.04 per cent of all such inflows. According to the Turkish embassy, about 20 companies from there are operating in India. Turkish companies now want to tap India for the large South Asian market.
However, Turkey is also expected to pitch for greater Indian investment, considering that at least 210 Indian companies operate there. They mainly target the country as a hub to extend operations in the European Union with which Turkey has a customs union, and to West Asia/North Africa.
Lutfi Elvan, the country’s development minister, had said during a visit to India in November last year that apart from the standardised general incentive policy for investors, Turkey had initiated tailor-made incentives for investments from various nations. For Indian investors, this might include up to 100 per cent discount in corporate tax, allocation of public property for up to 49 years without rent obligation and free ownership transfer of such property. Also, exemption from paying social security tax for up to 20 years.
Turkey is also considered a world leader in public-private partnership projects, with its government signing 211 of these, worth $122 bn.
With Turkey also being a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the issue of India’s membership bid of the elite grouping is likely to figure in the talks during Erdogan’s visit.
Delhi will have to tread carefully on geopolitical discussions involving West Asia and the Mediterranean region, with Erdogan calling for India’s continued dialogue with Pakistan over Kashmir but arguing that the situation bore no resemblance to Kurds fighting for separation in Turkey’s eastern provinces.