On the first leg of his three-country tour, which will include Chad and Tunisia, President Erdoğan arrived in Sudan for a two-day visit. He said Turkey wants to bring the bilateral trade of $500 million with Sudan up to $1 billion as soon as possible, and that the two countries eye to reach $10 billion in the future.
Turkey wants to increase its current $500-million bilateral trade volume with Sudan up to $1 billion as soon as possible, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a joint press conference with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir yesterday, adding that their eventual future trade target was $10 billion. Arriving in Sudan Sunday for a two-day visit as part of his four-day Africa tour that will include stops at Chad and Tunisia, President Erdoğan said he attaches importance to the Turkish-Sudanese business forum that will take place today, indicating that they will encourage businesspeople to invest in the African country. He also added that the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council that will be established between the two countries will further improve commercial ties.
Erdoğan’s trip to Sudan, Chad and Tunisia seeks to further strengthen Turkey’s relations as a part of its ongoing policy of opening to Africa. The visits will be dominated by business forums to discuss investments, while Turkey is also expected to sign cooperation deals in each state. The president’s three-nation tour is very important for the development of Turkey’s bilateral relations with these countries, according to the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK).
In Sudan, businesspeople from Turkey are expected to conduct meetings related to investments in agriculture, while in Chad they will meet investors from the mining and oil sector, according to a statement issued by DEİK.
Turkish companies will reportedly seek opportunities to benefit from the customs union agreement between Tunisia and other nations and investment opportunities in agriculture and tourism.
Turkey’s foreign trade with Sudan, Chad and Tunisia has developed significantly in the past five years. Total trade volume between Turkey and these countries increased by 29 percent to $1.7 billion in 2016, while it was $1.3 billion in 2012, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Turkey’s total foreign trade with Sudan, Chad and Tunisia totaled $7.4 billion from 2012 to 2016, official data shows.
This trip comes after the president’s visits to three other east African countries – Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar – in January this year.
Erdoğan was accompanied by a large delegation, including Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Agriculture Minister Ahmet Esref Fakıbaba, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and a delegation of some 150 Turkish businessmen.
In the Sudan visit, Erdoğan was expected to hold meetings with his counterpart Omar al-Bashir.
Today, President Erdoğan will attend a Sudanese-Turkish business forum with al-Bashir.Speaking to reporters at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara ahead of the visit yesterday, Erdoğan said his visit would mark the first time a Turkish president visits Sudan and Chad.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), Turkish Ambassador to Sudan Dr. İrfan Neziroğlu said President Erdoğan’s visit to Sudan, which will be the first of its kind since he became president, would play a remarkable role in boosting political and economic ties between the two countries. “We are hoping for big developments in bilateral cooperation between Sudan and Turkey. Both sides have great expectations from this visit,” the ambassador stated. He said, “During the visit of the president when he was prime minister in 2006, the trade volume between our two countries was $150 million […] and now it’s more than $500 million,” adding, “The economic agreements will cover wide fields including agriculture, mining, tourism, education and other economic sectors.”
Business people eye higher trade volume with Sudan
The current trade volume of $500 million between Turkey and Sudan is inadequate for two countries that have such close relations, Mehmet Ali Korkmaz, the chairman of the Turkey-Sudan Business Council of DEİK told AA.
Turkey’s exports to Sudan amounted to $328.5 million in January-October 2017, while imports from the country stood at $78.3 million, according to TurkStat.
“Turkish firms in Sudan operate in manufacturing, industry, energy, service, agriculture and machinery sectors, and they help advance Sudan’s economy by contributing to employment. We have Turkish firms that are ready to serve Sudan in every field. We hope that this interest will continue to increase,” he said.
Tunisia provides incentives for foreign investors
Tunisia provides many incentives to attract foreign direct investment, such as providing free land acquisitions in industrial zones, a tax exemption for 10 years, an exemption from insurance premiums for five years and free transfers of revenues, according to Uğur Doğan, the chairman of the Turkey-Tunisia Business Council.
Turkish Eximbank also provides low interest loans for Turkish investors in Tunisia, Doğan said, adding Tunisia sought to export more to Turkey.
Turkey’s exports to Tunisia stood at $720.7 million in the first 10 months of the year, while imports from the country totaled $163.6 million, according to TurkStat.
The areas where investment is needed in Tunisia are the automotive supply industry, transportation, communication, agro-business, manufacturing industry and tourism, Doğan underlined.
No Turkish band in Chad
Chad presents opportunities for Turkish investors in construction, agriculture, food processing and storage, animal products processing, textile, machinery and energy, Can Hakan Karaca, the chairman of the Turkey-Chad Business Council said. He also said that
Chad has rich gold, uranium and oil reserves.
Turkey’s imports from Chad amounted to $26.9 million in the first 10 months of 2017, while exports stood at $14.9 million, according to TurkStat.
Karaca pointed out that the main problems for investors in Chad were inadequate energy and costly transportation infrastructure, weak institutions and corruption.
“Our president’s visit to Chad shows Turkey’s determination to strengthen the partnership between Turkey and Africa,” he underlined.
Karaca said one of the main problems Turkish businesses faced in Chad was the lack of Turkish banks.