The EU confirmed Turkey's status to be accession negotiations on 17 December 2004. Turkey continues to reap the benefits of its 1996 customs union agreement with the EU, particularly in terms of improved economic efficiency. The customs union commits Turkey to adopt the EU's common external tariff and a commercial policy "substantially similar" to that of the EU, including adoption of the EU's preferential trade regime with third countries. Turkey has already signed Free Trade Agreements with the EFTA member countries and is in the process of finalizing agreements with the other EU applicant countries.
Turkey is a founding member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in which the governments of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine are nurturing multilateral cooperation among the members on a number of issues including trade. Turkey, along with Pakistan and Iran, is a founding member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). ECO, whose membership beyond the founders includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan has had limited success in improving trade cooperation. Turkey is a founding member of the Southern Europe Cooperative Initiative (SECI); a regional association aimed at encouraging cooperation among its member states on a variety of issues including customs, transportation and anti-crime efforts. SECI member states include Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey.