11 Jun 2010

Turkey plans free trade zone with Arab neighbours

11:10 am on 11 June 2010

Turkey is to set up a free trade zone with three of its Arab neighbours, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

The plan was announced at a meeting of Arab and Turkish ministers in Istanbul on Thursday.

The BBC reports the aim is to improve economic relations between Turkey, which remains eager to join the European Union, and the rest of the region.

The plan builds on several years of existing free-trade negotiations with the three countries.

Trade between Turkey and all 22 members of the Arab League has more than doubled over the past five years to almost $US30 billion (24.7 billion euros) per year.

However, this represents a fraction of Turkey's commerce with Europe.