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Foreign trade bridge extends to Pacific

May '07
As the economy keeps growing and depending on foreign trade, Turkish businessmen are seeking to establish strong footholds in international markets to preserve this upward trend.

As a part of these efforts, the Confederation of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) is establishing a “trade bridge” with the Pacific region, an economic zone including 14 countries. This marks a third major step in knitting a web of trade after TUSKON initiated two other organizations for the Africa and Eurasia regions last year.

The Turkey-Pacific trade bridge meetings will be held in Istanbul, at the Cevahir Congress and Culture center on April 7 and 8. These meetings will host business talks between 1,200 Turkish businessmen and 220 Pacific entrepreneurs. TUSKON Chairman Rizanur Meral said they hoped to mobilize the potential of the region in accordance with the “strategy of developing commercial and economic relations with Asia-Pacific countries” of the Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade (DTM).

The 14 countries will be represented by not only businessmen but also by some six ministers, 30 bureaucrats and other state officials from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma and Vietnam. In contrast with previous similar events, foreign media members were also invited. Meral says these gatherings offer very productive and fertile ground to build new trade extensions between countries as well as to appreciate the potential for investment.

Turkey's exports to the countries in the region amount to only $1 billion, whereas its imports are nearly $11 billion. Meral says they want this imbalance to shift toward Turkey's favor. He underlines that the region is offering very good opportunities, especially in the fields of construction equipment, iron and steel, oil products, textile and apparels, mining and foodstuffs. He also points out that Turkey, among the world's largest 20 economies, has strong and attractive investment opportunities as well.

Foreign Trade Undersecretary Tuncer Kayalar noted that this initiative was especially crucial with respect to the fact that the Asia-Pacific region has become a center for global investors, which in turn drives these economies.

As of 2005, 27.4 percent of the world's total exports and 24.7 percent of world's total imports are from the Asia-Pacific region. The foreign trade volume of the region is $5.4 trillion ($2.8 trillion in exports and $2.6 trillion in imports). Six countries in this region are among the first 10 in world trade. These bright figures, moreover, are likely to grow brighter considering the existing trends in global trade. The region offers a great market with over 3 billion consumers.

Kayalar enlisted the major pillars of his department's Asia-Pacific strategy to accelerate economic relations in the region, increase Turkey's market share and eliminate the sectoral and regional dependencies that are a structural problem in exporting. He estimates that Turkey will be reaping rewards from its exports to the region within the next five years. He also said ongoing contracting projects in the region worth around $3 billion at present would double in five years. “The TUSKON summit is creating a crucial opportunity to develop better relations with Pacific nations,” said Kayalar.

The Pacific summit is being supported by the Foreign Ministry, DTM, Turkish Exporters' Assembly (TIM), Association of Social and Economic Solidarity with Pacific Nations (PASIAD), Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), Istanbul Exporters' Association (IIB), General Secretariat of Istanbul Mineral and Metals Exporters' Association (IMMIB) and the Istanbul Textile and the Apparel Exporters Association (ITKIB).

Economy Minister and chief negotiator with the EU Ali Babacan and Industry and Commerce Minister Ali Coskun will also participate in the summit that will take place under the auspices of Foreign Trade Minister Kürsad Tüzmen.

Confederation of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON)

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