Turkey criticizes end to US preferential trade status

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech at a rally of his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) in Zonguldak, Turkey, Monday, March 4, 2019, ahead of local elections scheduled for March 31. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's trade minister says a U.S. decision to end a preferential trade program with Turkey is inconsistent with the two countries' aim to increase annual bilateral trade to $75 billion.

Ruhsar Pekcan tweeted on Tuesday that Turkey intends to press ahead with efforts to reach the target "without losing any momentum." She added that the decision would harm American small- and medium-sized enterprises and manufacturers.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office announced Monday that Washington intends to scrap the preferential trade status granted to India and Turkey, saying "they no longer comply with the statutory eligibility criteria."

The program allows certain products from developing countries to enter the U.S. duty-free. Turkey was designated as a beneficiary in 1975.

The office said the decision came at U.S. President Donald Trump's direction.

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