ISTANBUL – Anatolia News Agency
Trade between Turkey and the Gulf offer more than the energy business, say Turkish ministers. Turkey’s plans include restoring a historic rail line to the Gulf
TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu (R) presents Finance Minister Şimşek (C) with a gift at the Turkey-Gulf Business Forum. AA photo
Joint investments between Turkey and the Gulf states are crucial as they will benefit all parties concerned, Turkish leaders said yesterday during the Turkey-Gulf Business Council Forum in Istanbul.
Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said there were plenty of opportunities for both sides in the energy, tourism, health and agricultural sectors and called the relationship “something like a perfect match-up.”
Şimşek said Gulf countries would have to export more than just gas and natural gas due to their substantial current account surpluses and that over the next 10 years, they would have a current account surplus of roughly $5 trillion. As such, Turkey and the Gulf countries should sign a free-trade agreement as soon as possible, he said.
The Union of Chambers Commodities and Exchanges (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu also said in his speech that no one should look at this as a one-way investment, but rather as an opportunity for joint investments in areas like energy, construction and animal husbandry.
“Let’s make investments together,” said Hisarcıklıoğlu. “You have the money, but we have the courage.”
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said in his speech that Turkey and the Gulf countries needed to build a railway line to connect them to each other. “Such a rail line would not only shorten the distance between our countries, but also link the Gulf with Europe and Central Asia,” said Babacan.
The minister’s statement was a reference to the historic Hejas railroad built in early 20th century, which ran between Damascus andMedina.
In 2002, the trade volume between Turkey and the Gulf states was $1.5 billion, Babacan said, but noted that it had increased to $11.9 billion in nine years. Still, the deputy prime minister said, the number was too low given the countries’ enormous potential.
“We have to sign a free trade agreement as soon as possible to increase our trade flow and reach our potential,” said Babacan, echoing Şimşek’s calls.
Plans to ease estate sales
He also said that the government was working on a more flexible legal framework to make it easier for foreign nationals to purchase real estate in Turkey. In doing so, Babacan added that they planned to export of rental certificates, an Islamic banking sukuk instrument, to minimize risks and widen the Treasury’s investment base