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Turkiye wants bilateral trade volume with Saudi Arabia to reach $30bn, says minister
ISTANBUL: With eyes set on increasing bilateral trade to $10 billion soon, Turkish and Saudi investors gathered at the Turkiye-Saudi Forum that began on Thursday in Istanbul.
The event, organized in partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Treasury and Finance, Turkiye’s Investment Office of the Presidency, and the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkiye, seeks to highlight promising investment opportunities.
Addressing the forum, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said: “The manufacturing, tourism, construction and biotechnology, and healthcare sectors are some of the key sectors that have the potential to drive areas for mutually beneficial investment opportunities.”
He stressed the importance of private-sector partnerships and business-to-business relations to strengthen economic ties between the two nations.
Turkiye’s trade volume with Saudi Arabia increased from $3.7 billion in 2021 to $4.3 billion between January-October 2022. However, the Turkish government’s target for bilateral trade volume is to reach $10 billion soon.
“But it is not enough. We should attain $30 billion if we are already making plans for 2030. When we work together, our countries will win,” Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Nureddin Nebati said, underlying that the finance sector is one of the most promising avenues for developing business ties.
“Turkiye will continue to be an investor-friendly country,” he said.
There are about 1,100 Saudi companies in Turkiye with investments worth $11 billion in agriculture, real estate, energy, and other sectors; while Saudi Arabia also suggests Turkish investors expand their business activities beyond the construction sector by investing in aviation, defense, tourism, innovation, health, technology, energy and food sectors.
Turkiye also offers deepening ties with the Kingdom by jointly investing in third countries, especially in the African continent.
According to Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute, Turkish and Saudi leaders have moved closer in aligning their visions of regional stability and they may wish to focus on developing the institutional links between the two states.
“It will give the bilateral relationship a depth and a durability that was missing before, and that befits two of the largest economies in the region,” he told Arab News.
Several Turkish and Saudi businesspersons attended the forum where about 10 cooperation deals were signed.
“The quest to intensify existing private sector partnerships and explore new ones has recently gained momentum in the wake of the normalization process in the bilateral relations concomitant with the regional de-escalation in the region. The forum represents a timely initiative as the two largest economies in the region seek to capitalize on the investment opportunities made available by the recent political rapprochement between the two countries,” Dr. Eyup Ersoy, visiting research fellow under the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College London, told Arab News.
In late November, Nebati also met Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al-Qasabi in Istanbul to evaluate avenues for economic and commercial cooperation.
The representatives of the Turkish and Saudi business communities are expected to gather again in March 2023, this time in Riyadh.
Dr. Ersoy thinks that the energy sector needs constant investments in both countries, while the construction sector, as well as the housing market, also bear high untapped potential for bilateral economic relations as the two governments promote large-scale investments in this sector domestically.
“For Saudi Arabia, investment cooperation with the Turkish public and private sectors in agricultural, pharmaceutical, and health sectors seems especially relevant for the local development of these sectors in its domestic economy,” he said.
At a trade roadshow hosted in Istanbul last week, the Saudi Tourism Authority announced that Turkish citizens could now obtain an entry visa into Saudi Arabia more simply and quickly.
Experts underline that deepening economic and business ties carry a range of advantages for the two countries.
“The governments of each state have advanced ambitious development goals for their economies, and furthering closer economic collaboration with each other, especially through dynamic business networks, is certain to contribute to these goals,” Dr. Ersoy said.
He added: “In addition, diversification of economic and business ties is set to enhance investment opportunities for both sides, even in third markets through joint initiatives. Besides, intensification of commercial and financial transactions has the potential to mitigate the volatility observed in bilateral relations by creating and cementing economic interdependencies between the two countries.”
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