Keynote Speech By H.e. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal At The Nato Economy Forum (27 February 2015, Toronto)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to be here today with the distinguished representatives of Canadian business world. I would like to thank Atlantic Council of Canada for the organization of this event, especially to Julie Lindhout, President of Atlantic Council of Canada.
It is also a pleasure to see and contribute to the growing interest towards Turkey in Canada, especially in the commercial and economic domains.
As a member ofNATOandG20,Turkey is a country offering significant opportunities for foreign investors with its geographically vital position which allows her to function as a gateway between Europe,Balkans,Middle East and Central Asia. The opportunities exist not only in the dynamic domestic market, but also throughout the region.
In this vein,Turkey enjoys excellent political and commercial relations with the Balkan countries and supports their integration to all Western organisations first and foremost NATO. We believe economic development in the Balkans is of utmost importance for the security of the region.
Turkey initiated comprehensive structural reforms in the aftermath of 2001 economic crisis which aimed at sustaining macroeconomic stability and improving national economy’s resilience, productiveness and efficiency. Especially, the strength of the banking sector since then has been providing a buffer against external shocks.
Political stability, structural reforms, coupled with the prudent and tight fiscal and monetary policy have paved the way forthe continuousgrowthof our country.Turkey’stotal trade volume exceeded 400 billion US dollars in 2014.Gross domestic product (GDP) more than tripledsince 2001and reached820billion US dollars at the end of2013. Moreover, the GDP per capita has tripledin the same periodto11,000US dollars in 2014.GDP per capitaaccording to PPP surpassed 18,000 USD.
Turkey has emerged as a top investment destination due to the elimination of bureaucratic barriers to a large extent, improvement in tax system, facilitation of profit transfers and successful privatization programs. The total amount of foreign direct investment inflows since 2005 has reached to 143billionUS dollarswith12,5billion USD only in 2014.
Turkish economy has shown resilience and strength in facing the challenges brought by the global economic downturn. Turkey is now enjoying a full recovery from the negative effects of the global recession.In 2013, Turkish economy achieved a growth rate of 4,1%andhas become the fastest growing economy in Europe and amongst the OECD countries. It is expected to grow by3 % in 2015and4 % in 2016, according to the latest OECD report.
Turkeyhasagrowingand dynamicdomesticmarket with its 77 million population with more than 60 % of the populationbelowthe age of 24.
Turkish exportsin 2014 totalled to 158 billion US dollars. The total volume of investmentsabroadmade by some 4000Turkish companieshas reached to 30 billion US dollars. However,North Americaregion could only attract 135 Million US dollars ofTurkish investmentuntil 2014.
Our aim is to be amongst the 10 biggest economies in the world and reaching an export volume of 500 billion USD in 2023, the year which marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.
In addition to the Balkans, several regional trade development strategies towards neighbouring and surrounding countries, Asia-Pacific region and the continents of Africa and America have been introduced to ensure durable export growth and diversification of export markets. On the other hand,in 2012, Turkish construction sector has secured26billiondollars’ worthof contracts for 433 projects worldwide.
The relations between Turkey andCanadacontinue to progress steadily in many fields. The number ofCanadian miningcompanies operating in Turkeyis increasing.Despite the economic downturnin 2009, bilateral trade stood ataround 2,4billion US Dollars since 2010.However, the current levels of trade and investment volume between Turkey and Canada do not represent the full potential. In the coming years, we aim to increase trade and investment volumes.
Turkeyis part of the Customs Union of the EU andhas18Free Trade Agreements(FTA)in force,and withEFTA.Also to boost trade with Canada, Turkey wishes to sign an FTA. Exploratory talksfor this aimbetweenthe two countriescompleted in 2014. We arenowwaiting for thedate from the Government of Canada to launch formal FTA negotiations. Establishment of Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) to be co-chaired by the Economy & International Trade Ministers from both countries was agreed. The negotiation of an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation has created an environment more conducive to bilateral investment activities.
Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has published a reporton Turkey in June 2013 andhas come up with six recommendations to the Canadian government which mentions high level political engagement, expedition of negotiations for FTA with Turkey, partnerships between businesses in third countries, youth mobility agreement, cooperation in technology and education, mining and energy.EDC has identified Turkey as a strategic market of opportunity for Canadian firms, and Canada’s new Global Markets Action Plan has named Turkey as a top emerging market with broad Canadian interests.
I would also like to say a few words regarding tourism. During the past decade,Turkeyhas become the 6th tourism destination in the world.We hosted morethan41 million touristsin 2014. 200 thousand of them wereCanadian tourists visitingTurkey.A significant increase in the routes and frequencies of flights between our two countries by both Turkish Airlines and
Air Canada represents an important boost to tourism and trade. 80 million passengers travelled through Istanbul in 2014, thus underlining theglobal hub status of Istanbul once again.57million of them was travelling with Turkish Airlines.Just to give you an example,you can reach to more thana dozen countrieswith a 1 hour flight from Istanbulandwithin 4 hoursfrom Istanbul to both sides of the world from Istanbulyou can reach to1,5billion peoplein57 countries,a geography extending fromIreland to India.
I am also pleased to inform you that a number of high level visitsare planned forthis year.
Last nightthe Speaker of the Turkish Parliament departed from Toronto after a 5 day visit to Canada.TurkishMinister of Agriculture will be visiting Canadain first half of March 2015 andTurkishMinister of Energy and Natural Resources in the second half. ASeminar on "Doing Business in Turkey”will be organized on March 20, 2015 in Toronto.In May of this year, the Canadian Turkish Business Council, working with various provinces, will coordinate a trade conference in Turkey that will focus on key sectors of opportunity for Canadian firms. All of these visitsand eventsrepresent significant opportunities to further advance trade and investment between our two countries.
I also like to touch upon Turkey’s G20 Presidency.Turkey, which assumed the G20 Presidency in December 2014 from Australia, is committed to maintaining the momentum of previous Summits and leading collective action to generate robust and inclusive growth.Turkey’s presidency has three pillars: strengthening the global recovery and lifting potential; enhancing resilience; and reinforcing sustainability. The three I’s of the Turkish presidency are: Inclusiveness; Implementation; and Investment for Growth.
Before concluding, I wish to stress thatTurkey is a country offering significant opportunities for foreign investors. Murat Özdemir, CountryAdvisor in Canada from the Turkish Investment Support and Promotion Agency will give you more detailed information in his presentation in the afternoon.Wewill continue to strive forraisingthe current levels of trade and investment between our countriesto itsfull potential. I would like to thank once again toAtlantic Council of Canadafor the successful organization of this meeting.
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