500 Turkish investors in Malta
“Malta has a very important position and a wonderful investment environment - there are more than 500 Turkish investors in Malta with holdings totalling $1.3bn ( €1.23bn)”, Benali Yildrim, the Prime Minister of Turkey told a large audience of business leaders from both nations during a seminar held at MCCEI last Friday.
“There are bright prospects for further investments in port management, maritime affairs, infrastructure”, he continued. “We hope that two additional chapters under the EU-Turkey accession negotiations launched in 2005 can be opened under the Maltese EU presidency and I thank Malta for its unconditional support for Turkey’s eventual EU membership”.
The Turkish economy minister Nihat Zaybekci stated that “the revision of the EU-Turkey Customs Union launched 21 years ago is very important. It only covers industrial goods, is very asymmetrical while 49 per cent of Turkey’s exports and 42 per cent of its imports are with the EU. Under EU’s free trade agreements with third countries, their goods can automatically enter Turkey, but the opposite is not the case. A revised Customs Union must cover agricultural products, electronics and so on. On 21 December the European Commission decided to request authorisation from the European Council to update the union and hopefully this can start with the support of both our Prime Ministers.”
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat assured the audience that “Malta will continue to support Turkish accession and strive to open the Customs Union revision negotiations during our presi- dency. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations 13 bilateral agreements had been signed, including one on avoidance of double taxation in 2014. The revival of the Maltese-Turkish Business Council has been very positive, while the 13 weekly direct flights from Istanbul are a crucial element in fostering ties.”
“We see a strong future for Turkish investments in financial services, e-commerce, the maritime sector. We have discussed the potential of our English language teaching sector – Turkish students are already the second largest group from non-EU nations and I think this number can increase tenfold. There are also discussions about specific training for seafarers.”
Chris Cardona, Minister for the Economy indicated that while exports from Malta to Turkey amounted to €13 million, imports had topped €170 million in 2015. “The government is committed to correcting this trade imbalance. A team from my ministry and Malta Enterprise has just returned from meetings with top business leaders in Istanbul. There are also prospects for activities by Trade Malta to facilitate Turkish trade flows – our role being to broker, enable and facilitate”.
MCCEI’s president, Anton Borg emphasised that the MalteseTurkish Business Council chaired by Dr. Mark Bencini and supported by Trade Malta “works tirelessly to bring together business people from the two countries to collaborate and build on each other’s knowledge and experiences. Yildirim Holding invested €200m in 2011 for a 50 per cent stake in the Malta Freeport container terminal while in 2015, Global Liman Isletmeleri acquired a majority stake in the Valletta Cruise Port. There is also a strong Turkish presence in our banking sector - including Akbank, Türkiye Garanti Bankası A.Ş, Finansbank (Malta) Ltd, Yapi Kredi).”
“However, we believe we are only scratching the surface and that there is more that we can achieve together. Our two countries can bring specific elements to the table that may be valuable to the other party. With a population of 78 million people and a recent history of robust economic expansion, Turkey is an immense country of great resources. Malta makes up for its diminutive size by its excellent strategic geographical position and membership in the European Union and the eurozone.”
“Through another public-private partnership with Government, we have recently established Education Malta to attract further investment in this sector and to build an international brand. We are also in the final process of establishing ICT Malta – again in partnership with Government to support Maltabased companies to internationalise their operations and export their intellectual property.” See pg 12 for Mr Borg’s speech