A new chapter in south-south trade cooperation: Turkey leaps into Africa [Archives:2007/1053/Business & Economy]

May 21 2007

By: Raidan Al-Saqqaf
[email protected]

The Turkish businessmen and industrialists confederation has organized a Turkish-African trade summit during the 16-18 of May, held in Istanbul. Over 1000 foreign delegates have attended the summit, including 32 high officials from African countries, and 27 businessmen from Yemen.

This summit, otherwise known as the second Turkey-Africa foreign trade bridge, has become an annual event with the aim of increasing the Turkish-African trade volume from the current US$ 10 billion to US$ 25 billion.

Turkish Minister for International trade Mr. Kursad Tuzmen has stated, at a press conference prior to opening the convention, that this summit, which adopts the strategy for developing trade relations with African countries, was developed in 2003, since then, trade with the African continent has increased by 120 percent by 2006. He also added that the Turkish government aims to increase trade volume with Africa to reach US$ 30 billion by 2010.

Turkish businessmen have invested heavily in Africa since the first Turkey-Africa trade bridge held last year, with investments exceeding US$ 500 million, however, Tuzmen said that turkey will invest a further US$ 3.5 billion in Africa during the coming five years. Turkey has also signed ten free trade agreements with African nations, with plans to expand trade relations with more African countries, according to Tuzmen.

President of the National African Federated Chamber of commerce and Industry Mr. Vusi Nhlapo has further emphasized the importance of Turkish-African trade relations, adding that such trade is value-added and would result in the benefit of both partners, while Mr. Mehmet Bozkurt, commercial councilor of Turkey in Senegal, indicated that African-Turkish trade and business relations are currently witnessing a boom, as Africa's trade potential is huge, adding that the current surge is only the start, adding that a Turkish delegation will be visiting Dakar later on this year to enhance trade ties and discover investment opportunities in Senegal. He also added that African is growing and prospering, and the demand for quality goods is increasing as well.

Ambassador Thierno Diallo of the Organization of the Islamic Conference also participated in the conference, he told YemenTimes that half of the Organization's Member countries are African countries, and it is of great importance for the organization to help develop economic and trade cooperation between member countries. Another economic expert is Mr. Abdalla Omar, President of the Zanzibar Chamber of commerce, who said that he was impressed with the global interest in trading with Africa, adding that Turkey is one of many countries that are expanding into Africa.

On his part, Dr. Adel Gazarin, Chairman of the Egyptian Businessmen's Association, has stated that Egyptian-Turkish trade ties have reach an advanced stage, evident by signing a cooperation agreement with TUSKON, the Confederation of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists. Tamir Sadeq of Egypt's Commercial International Bank has stated that Turkish businessmen have already ventured into three special industrial zones in Egypt, adding that Turkish businessmen view Egypt as a gateway to Africa and the region, producing a wide range of products ranging from textiles to steel and industrial goods.

Inline with that, the President of TUSKON Mr. Rızanur Meral has stated that Turkish producers have a competitive advantage compared to Chinese producers who are already Africa's largest trade partner, he stated that the technology and know-how adopted by Turkish manufactures are state-of-the art, adding that they spend a considerable percent of their budgets for design, research, and development in order to meet the highest quality standards of the European Union and can provide durable, quality, and efficient products for the African market for a significantly lower price compares to other goods of similar quality, adding that Turkish investments in Africa will also have a spill-over effect in terms of introducing new technology to Africa and help build modern and sophisticated industries there.

Yemeni businessmen also participated in the conference, representing a wide spectrum of industries in Yemen. Entrepreneur Mohammed Abdu Al-Ariki of Al-Khalil Technology told Yemen Times that he is attending this event in order to discover possible business opportunities in other sectors so as to diversify his investment portfolio and line of business, he also added that Turkey's industries are promising and have a quality advantage.

Businessman Abdullah Ahmed Al-Hadha, had a similar notion in mind, adding that Turkish brands have proved their reliability and durability, and the market potential of such products is always growing, while several businessmen who trade in vehicle spare parts have emphasized that the quality of Turkish-made parts are similar to that of European and Japanese parts, adding that they discovered that many of the parts they used to important from Europe were actually made in Turkey and were sold to Yemeni businessmen at a premium, indicating that now they buy the parts directly from their manufactures at lower prices.

The summit was a great success not only for the African participants, but also for Turkish businessmen who had an opportunity not only to market their goods and services, but also to know more about the African market and the demands of the African consumers, the Secretary-General of TUSKON Dr. Mustafa Gunay has indicated that this summit is unique in the sense that African buyers attend the venue where several sellers come to their respective booths and offer them their products and services, making it easier for them to make a choice and sign a business contract, or at least have a thorough knowledge of what Turkey can trade with Africa through the presentations of Turkish businessmen during the conference.