After unilaterally cancelling the visa for 5 Central Asia countries Turkey is removing customs walls with 18 Islamic countries. Turkey is getting ready to gradually remove the customs barriers by establishing trade preferential system with 18 Islamic countries. with the agreement to be signed in September 2007 Turkey will remove the prohibitive duty and non-tariff barriers with; United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Morocco, Guinea, Iran, Cameron, Qatar, Libya, Lebanon, Maldives, Malaysia, Egypt, Pakistan, Senegal, Syria, Tunisia, Uganda and Jordan. “Trade Preferential System among the Members Organization of the Islamic Conference (TPS-OIC)” project is being implemented 26 years after the signing of the framework agreement. Framework Agreement on the Trade Preferential System foresees making reductions progressively in the customs tariffs amongst the parties of the agreement and also decreasing and removal in time of the non-tariff barriers that make trade difficult. According to information received by the ANKA Agency, the origin rules agreement, which will implement the project, will be signed in September in Ankara by the “Trade Negotiations Committee” joined by the representatives of 18 countries that approved the agreement, in order to carry out the works that will enable the implementation of the trade preferential system. In this way, the legal infrastructure for transition to the trade preferential system will be completed. For the first time the trade amongst the Islamic countries will be carried out with an advantageous regime on the basis of joint rules. The scope of the system can be enhanced in the future and this will pave the way for the gradual establishment of integration where the goods, services and the capital can circulate freely amongst the Islamic countries. Moreover, the Preferential Tariff Protocol (PRETAS), which defines the method to be used in tariff reductions based on the Framework Agreement, is going through the approval process for execution. In this framework, the counterpart countries will implement customs duty reductions in 4 years (6 years for the least developed countries) in equal slices in 7 % of their total customs tariff lines and they will totally remove non-tariff and tariff-like barriers in the tariff lines subject to reduction. As the tariff lines will be subject to reduction as a result of the said reductions: the lines where the customs duty is more than 25 % will be reduced to 25 %, the ones between 15 % and 25 % will be reduced to 15 %, and the ones between 10 % and 15 % will be reduced to 10 %. A special arrangement under PRETAS has given the countries the right to make further tariff discounts beyond the reductions made by normal tariff discount method. Thus the member states that have a higher level of economic development can resort to a more comprehensive liberalization amongst themselves based on a volunteering basis. Recently Turkey unilaterally canceled the visa for the Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan citizens who have public passports. Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan citizens who have public passports are provided with visa exemption for their visits to Turkey where they will stay as tourists for maximum 30 days. Spokesman of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs Levent Bilman, in his written remark to a question, said that Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan citizens with public passports are given visa exemption for their visits to Turkey where they will stay as tourists for maximum 30 days with the Cabinet decision dated 19 July 2007 and no. 12441 published in the Official Gazette dated 29 July 2007 and no. 26597. Bilman said “thus, in the framework of the existing bilateral arrangement, the visa exemption which was previously provided to the citizens of Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan has been extended to cover the said countries”. Spokesman Bilman reported that, as per the decision which came into effect as of 1 August 2007, the citizens of the above mentioned countries can enter Turkey without any visa provided that they give 30 USA dollar or equivalent Turkish Liras for each day they will spend in Turkey in the framework of the relevant Turkish legislation. Bilman said: "As the decision covers tourist travels, bus and lorry drivers carrying goods and passengers and have Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan public passports will be subject to visa while entering our country. On the other hand, our citizens with public passports are still subject to visa obligation while traveling to Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. This decision is a reflection of Turkey’s desire to further improve its close and amicable relations with Central Asia and Caucasian countries."
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