WASHINGTON — Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who met this week with President Bush and other key trade officials in a bid for a preferential trade agreement, is not going home completely empty handed.

The U.S. State Department announced the creation of a joint commission with Turkey to continue the dialogue on trade and economic development. Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Alan Larson will chair the high-level delegation at the first Economic Partnership Commission in Ankara, Turkey, set for Feb. 26 to 27.

“This new forum will allow us to broaden the economic dialogue to focus on enhancing trade and commercial relations, increasing investment flows and supporting the successful implementation of Turkey’s economic reform program,” a State Department statement said.

Turkish officials hope to initiate discussions on a preferential trade agreement encompassing duty and quota breaks at the meeting in February.

“Many countries which do not have as close a relationship with the U.S. have a larger market share in the U.S. than Turkey does,” said Turkish Trade Minister Tunca Toskay, speaking through an interpreter.. “Turkey is among the very few countries with which the U.S. has a [overall trade] surplus.”

That is not the case in apparel and textiles, however. For the year ending Oct. 31, the U.S. imported 863 million square meter equivalents in apparel and textiles with a value of $1.5 billion, according to the Commerce Department. Conversely, the U.S. exported $20.3 million worth of apparel and textiles to Turkey for the first 10 months of 2001, according to Commerce.