Turkey shrugs off Syria free trade suspension

December 5, 2011 16:31

ISTANBUL - Turkey dismissed a decision by Syria to scrap a free trade agreement between the two countries in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Ankara, saying Damascus should use "common sense" as it would be the Syrian people and businesses that would suffer.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's cabinet voted over the weekend to suspend the pact with Turkey introduced in 2007 and impose a tariff of 30 percent on all Turkish imports and prohibitive duties on fuel and freight.

Syrian state news agency, SANA, said the new measures were in response to Turkey's sanctions. Last week, Ankara announced a set of economic sanctions it said would target the Syrian government in an attempt to persuade it to stop a bloody crackdown on a popular uprising now into its ninth month.

Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said while Ankara had not received an official statement from the Syrian government, the decision was a punishment for the Syrian people by the "government and those that influence it."

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