A new trade deal between Turkey and Venezuela, officially titled “Trade Development Agreement,” will enter into force on August 21, the Turkish T24 news website said on Saturday.
The agreement was hammered out on 17 May 2018, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Venezuela, during which he pledged to help his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro combat sanctions by the United States and its allies.
The trade agreement, which was approved by Turkey in January last year, envisages the lifting or incremental reduction of tariffs and customs duties.
“We have taken a very important step in commercial development, we have great potential on both sides, it is not a free trade agreement but one which allows the economies to complement each other and produce, since they do not compete against each other,” T24 cited Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza as saying during a press conference.
In 2017, the U.S. government brought economic sanctions against Venezuela for human rights abuses and undermining democracy. Washington introduced additional measures aimed at disrupting gold sales from Venezuela in November 2018.
However, heavily discounted Turkish food products have been sold to Venezuelans as financial aid in a so-called “gold for food” mechanism that has helped the beleaguered Maduro administration stay afloat financially amid unrest caused by severe food shortages.
Venezuela’s central bank began refining gold in Turkey in 2018.. The gold, worth US$ 900 million in 2018 alone, is being shipped to Turkey for refinement and processing. Nearly all that quantity was in the first nine months of the same year, before Washington imposed the new sanctions.
“We can easily focus on many items that are out of the scope of sanctions. But, gold is a definite part of the sanctions. Since gold was included, I can say that Turkey has made no gold trades with Venezuela,” T24 cited Ahmet Altuğ Oğuz, head of the Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEIK) Turkey-Venezuela Business Council, as saying.