2020 to be Africa year for Turkey, says trade minister

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JUST around the corner, 2020 will be Africa year for Turkey, which is engaged in several trade activities in the continent, Turkey’s trade minister said on Monday.

Addressing the consultation meeting of African Business Councils under Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board, Ruhsar Pekcan recalled that Turkey has embassies in 42 countries and commercial counsellors in 26 African countries.

Pekcan also said Turkey enjoys free trade agreements (FTA) with five countries, deals for reciprocal protection of investment with 30 countries, as well as agreements with 13 countries to prevent double taxation.

Turkish officials will pay visits to Morocco, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Mozambique to increase the number of agreements, she said.

Turkey signed FTAs with Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Mauritius, Pekcan said, adding deals with Sudan and Ghana are in process of approval.

‘Our negotiations are ongoing with Somalia and Seychelles, while we will sign preferential trade agreements with Mozambique and Mauritania,’ she added.

Turkey will probably organise a Turkey-Africa partnership summit in April under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency, the official said.

Turkey and African countries’ bilateral trade rose to $23.8bn in 2018 from $5.5bn in 2003, while Turkey’s exports jumped by 579 percent to $14.4bn in the same period, according to Pekcan.

But the $14bn export figure is too low for the large Africa continent, she said, urging Turkey to increase target oriented works in Africa amid rising global protectionist policies.

‘When we unveiled our Export Master Plan, we chose five targeted sectors and 17 countries which included Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, and South Africa,’ she said.

Pekcan also stated that Turkey should establish trade and logistic centres in the African continent.

Touching on protectionist policies across the globe, the official said their negative effect was $893 million in 2017 while it was $7.2bn in 2018 on Turkey’s trade.

‘The effect is expected to reach $11bn in 2019. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the US will start to implement new sanctions on the automotive sector, and it can reach $14.4bn,’ she highlighted.

Pekcan added: ‘We should play a proactive role in our target markets and countries which have potential.’

Nail Olpak, the head of the DEIK, said African Business Councils work with 45 countries ready for increasing economic relations between Turkey and Africa.

Turkey and African countries’ bilateral trade is yet to achieve the desired level, he said.

DEIK will organise several events, including Turkey-Africa Economy and Business Forum, in 2020, he added.

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