Turk­ish poli­cies ad­vance closer eco­nomic ties with Africa

Turkey has been pur­su­ing a mul­ti­fac­eted for­eign pol­icy in its ties with African coun­tries and fo­cus­ing on ex­pand­ing eco­nomic ties, which has re­sulted in a three­fold in­crease in trade vol­ume with the con­ti­nent

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - MİRAY AKIN - ANKARA

FOL­LOW­ING the end of the Cold War, the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem was re­placed with a mul­ti­po­lar global or­der, and Turkey re­de­fined its for­eign pol­icy as an ac­tive global ac­tor ac­cord­ingly. Ever since, re­la­tions with Africa have con­sti­tuted a sig­nif­i­cant part of Ankara’s mul­ti­di­men­sional for­eign pol­icy. The in­ten­si­fied diplo­matic ef­forts have been cou­pled with busi­ness diplo­macy and bol­stered Turkey’s eco­nomic ties with African coun­tries. These strength­en­ing eco­nomic re­la­tions have boosted trade vol­ume three­fold while in­creas­ing the num­ber of projects un­der­taken by Turk­ish con­trac­tors.

IN the past week, with con­tri­bu­tions by the Trade Min­istry and the African Union (AU), the 2nd Turkey-Africa Econ­omy and Busi­ness Fo­rum was held in Is­tan­bul with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan, busi­ness­peo­ple from Turkey and Africa, and politi­cians from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. The third edi­tion of Turkey-Africa part­ner­ship sum­mit will be or­ga­nized in Is­tan­bul in 2019,

Mah­mut Önügören, a found­ing part­ner of the in­vest­ment com­pany MON, which fo­cuses on in­vest­ing in agri­cul­tural, en­ergy, in­dus­trial, re­tail and con­struc­tion sec­tors, mainly in Africa, told Daily Sabah that the agree­ments be­tween the Turk­ish govern­ment and African coun­tries, and deals be­tween com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in Africa will con­tinue.

“Turkey ex­erts ef­fort to strengthen its eco­nomic ties with Africa,” he said, adding that three new agree­ments were signed, in­clud­ing a trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment be­tween Zim­babwe’s govern­ment and Turkey dur­ing the 2nd Turkey-Africa Econ­omy and Busi­ness Fo­rum.

In a bid to en­hance trade re­la­tions, Turkey is also plan­ning to use lo­cal cur­ren­cies in com­mer­cial ex­changes with coun­tries on the con­ti­nent, the pres­i­dent said in his ad­dress at the sum­mit.

Turkey’s open­ing up to Africa, which dates back to the Ac­tion Plan adopted in 1988, took shape in 2005. Since then, the coun­try has fo­cused on com­pre­hen­sive and long-term poli­cies based on di­ver­si­fy­ing its re­la­tions with the con­ti­nent. In that sense, the fields of agri­cul­ture, wa­ter re­source man­age­ment, ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, health, mi­cro-macro en­ter­prises and se­cu­rity have played piv­otal roles in Turkey’s eco­nomic trans­ac­tions with Africa.

The Turk­ish govern­ment de­clared 2005 the “Year of Africa.” In that sense, Er­doğan, who was prime min­is­ter at the time, high­lighted the eco­nomic po­ten­tial be­tween Turkey and African coun­tries while speak­ing to re­porters at Ankara’s Esen­boğa Air­port prior to his visit to Ethiopia at that year.

In a re­cip­ro­cal move, the AU de­clared Turkey its strate­gic part­ner in 2008, and re­la­tions be­tween Africa and Turkey gained mo­men­tum when the first-ever Turkey-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion Sum­mit was held in the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal Is­tan­bul with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 50 African coun­tries that year.

TURKEY’S GROW­ING IN­VEST­MENTS IN AFRICA

Sup­port­ing the con­ti­nent in the eco­nomic sphere to fend off the dif­fi­cul­ties that the African coun­tries have en­coun­tered in terms of trade and in­vest­ment, Turkey has made a fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion of $1 mil­lion to the AU since 2009 and opened Com­mer­cial Con­sulates in 26 African cap­i­tals. The es­tab­lish­ment of the busi­ness coun­cils by the Turk­ish For­eign Eco­nomic Re­la­tions Coun­cil with 19 sub­Sa­ha­ran coun­tries al­lows for strength­en­ing the eco­nomic part­ner­ship be­tween Africa and Turkey.

In ac­cor­dance with the ef­forts to es­tab­lish a con­trac­tual ba­sis for the mu­tual eco­nomic re­la­tions, Turkey signed trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with 38 African coun­tries. Stress­ing that the re­la­tions be­tween Africa and Turkey have been de­vel­op­ing con­sis­tently since 2005, Önügören said, “Turkey has opened 41 em­bassies through­out the con­ti­nent; cor­re­spond­ingly, the trade vol­ume has been also in­creas­ing.”

Turkey’s trade vol­ume with Africa steadily in­creased more than three­fold as it was only $5.4 bil­lion in 2003 and in 2015, the vol­ume ex­ceeded $17.5 bil­lion.

Turk­ish ex­ports to Africa mainly con­sist of pro­cessed food, iron, steel, con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, elec­tronic de­vices and ap­parel. In turn, Turkey’s im­ported items from the con­ti­nent in­cludes oil, raw ma­te­ri­als, min­er­als and gold. Gürkan Kaya, a fi­nance man­ager from MNG Orko, a min­ing com­pany that op­er­ates in Africa to pro­duce gold, how­ever, stated that, “We are just be­gin­ning to de­velop our re­la­tions; we need to make more agree­ments with African coun­tries.”

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion shared by the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (ECOWAS), the share of African coun­tries in the over­all in­ter­na­tional busi­ness vol­ume of Turk­ish con­trac­tors is around 21 per­cent, while the share of North Africa is 19 per­cent; and Turk­ish con­trac­tors have so far un­der­taken over 1,150 projects in Africa, which are worth $55 bil­lion.

Tak­ing this into ac­count, Kaya stressed that, “Be­cause Africa has a large num­ber of nat­u­ral re­sources, in­vestors want to do busi­ness here; the po­ten­tial of Africa is very high.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry pub­lished in Oc­to­ber 2015, Turkey’s in­vest­ments in Africa gen­er­ated 16,593 jobs in 2014 through­out the con­ti­nent. More­over, Turkey has seen an in­flux of African stu­dents study­ing in the coun­try thanks to schol­ar­ships pro­vided by the govern­ment or through bi­lat­eral ed­u­ca­tion agree­ments with African coun­tries. In this re­gard, the num­ber of schol­ar­ships granted for the ed­u­ca­tion of African stu­dents has sub­stan­tially in­creased.

Fur­ther­more, Turk­ish Air­lines (THY) flies to 48 des­ti­na­tions in 31 African coun­tries and as a re­sult of these di­rect flights, cul­tural and so­cial ex­changes have in­ten­si­fied be­tween Turk­ish and African com­mu­ni­ties.

HU­MAN­I­TAR­IAN AID TO AFRICA HITS RECORD HIGHS

In the past few decades, hu­man­i­tar­ian aid has been one of the prom­i­nent el­e­ments in Turkey’s African pol­icy. As Turkey has be­come a lead­ing coun­try in the con­ti­nent in terms of hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sues, ac­cord­ing to the Global Hu­man­i­tar­ian Re­port 2018, Turkey was ranked the top coun­try for hu­man­i­tar­ian aid spend­ing. In 2013 and 2014, Turkey also be­come the third-largest donor in the world. Ac­cord­ingly, in 2014, re­gard­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions in the ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion, health and ca­pac­ity build­ing, Turkey dis­bursed $3.3 bil­lion to Africa, which closely cor­re­sponds to 0.42 per­cent of its gross na­tional in­come.

As a part of Turkey’s de­vel­op­men­tal aid to Africa, the Turk­ish Co­op­er­a­tion and Co­or­di­na­tion Agency (TİKA) cur­rently op­er­ates in the con­ti­nent through 15 pro­gram co­or­di­na­tion of­fices and with the help of these of­fices, tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance is pro­vided to African coun­tries.

Along with the ac­tiv­i­ties of TİKA, Turkey also works with in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the World Food Pro­gram (WFP) and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), to pro­vide hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance to Africa.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan presents a plaque to Tosyalı Hold­ing Chair­man Fuat Tosyalı for the com­pany’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Turk­ish-African eco­nomic part­ner­ship, at the Turkey-Africa Eco­nomic and Busi­ness Fo­rum in Is­tan­bul, Oct. 10.

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