TURKEY - Economy
Secretary General, Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK)
Caner Çolak has been the Foreign Economic Relations Board’s secretary general since 2018. He previously served as the deputy secretary general of the Turkish Exporters Assembly, a department head at the Prime Ministry Privatization Administration, an advisor to the minister at the Ministry of Economy, and in roles at the Development Bank of Turkey and Halk Bank. He graduated from Hacettepe University’s Department of Economics.
Which Turkish industries are set to contribute most to increased exports to the US, and how is DEİK facilitating US-Turkish trade growth?
Bilateral trade between Turkey and the US has significantly grown and reached USD23 billion in 2018. However, the state of global trade and Turkish-American bilateral relations indicate a need for multi-front effort to reach target levels. As DEİK, we prepared a report with the Boston Consulting Group to analyze the ways of reaching the USD100-billion trade target set by Turkey and the US in the coming years. This report was presented to both countries’ leaders and cabinet officials. According to the report, automotive and parts, textile and apparel, jewelry, civil aerospace, white goods, building materials, and furniture are the sectors identified to contribute the most towards increasing Turkey-US bilateral trade. The Turkish American Business Council (TAİK), the primary business channel between Turkey and US, has been organizing business events such as high-level roundtables and trade missions to both in Turkey and US. After US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s visit in September 2019, the USD100-billion trade volume target was discussed during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Washington, DC in November 2019. DEİK and TAİK will closely work to realize this target by organizing more business events and creating new networks in the future.
In Turkey, what sectors of the economy are expected to see increased Chinese investment, and what Turkish products are most suitable for exporting to China?
As a result of the increase in the importance of the “China, Central Asia, West Asia Economic Corridor” in China’s Belt and Road Project, Turkey will benefit more from Chinese investments in the future. In recent years, two Chinese banks have been increasing their financing activities and a Chinese insurance company has increased its support for trade finance in Turkey. Tourism represents a big area of growth with China. After tourism—although we still do not have a trade agreement with China—the food sector has the highest potential for Turkish exporters, with dried fruits, fresh fruit, and vegetables the most prominent subsectors. We also see high potential for our branded products, such as our fashion brands in the textile sector, as well as white goods, glassware, souvenirs, and small appliances.
Outside of the immediate region, what targets has DEİK set for opening new trade relations with developing nations?
Turkey has been interesting in developing deeper economic and trade links with African countries since 2005, which Turkey declared as “Africa Year.” Since then, Turkey’s share in Africa’s imports increased from 1% to 2.6% with a stable pace. During the same period, Turkey’s number of embassies increased to 41 African countries, and Turkish Airlines now flies to 55 destinations in 37 countries on the continent. DEİK has been organizing Turkey-Africa Business Forums in Istanbul in every two years since 2016 in cooperation with Turkish Ministry of Trade and African Union Commission, hosting over 50 guest ministers and 3,000 business people from all over the African continent. Also, Turkey has free trade agreements with four African countries—Morocco, Egypt, Mauritius, and Tunisia. With the implementation of Africa Continental Free Trade Area, we expect a trade boom that will reach every corner of the continent. Having highly improved relations with Africa since 2005, Turkey will focus now more on young and developing African countries.
Over the next 12 months, what are DEİK’s most important objectives?
As DEİK, our priority is to create new and strengthen existing ties around the world. We are launching events on partnerships with Japan and European countries to make joint investments in African and Asian countries. We are connecting investors in countries with Islamic to use Islamic finance to manage their investments. In order to realize this purpose, we will organize a PPP event with the Islamic Development Bank on March 2020. Africa will be a priority of ours in the future as well. Finally, along with increased Chinese investments and because of the cultural and historic ties with Turkey, Central Asian countries will be one of the most important targets for Turkish business people along with the recently announced Turkey foreign policy, “Asia Anew.”
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