Opening Remarks by H.E. Selçuk Ünal, Ambassador of Turkey to Canada (Turkey-Canada Business Forum, University Club of Toronto)
Esteemed Acting President of Turkish Exporters Assembly,
I would like to welcome Mr. Süyelman Kocasert, the Acting President of the Turkish Exporters Assembly – TİM, and his delegation to Canada and also like to congratulate the hosts and organizers of this event. It is always a pleasure to address such a distinguished audience.
The visit of TİM delegation has been the fourth major trade mission between our two countries in less than a year. After the visits of the Presidents of Foreign Economic Relations Board-DEİK and Istanbul Chamber of Commerce-ITO, another business delegation from the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey-TOBB headed by its President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu visited Canada in June 2017. These delegations held several meetings in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto and met with great interest. In addition, the Canadian business delegation led by the Deputy Mayor recently for the CTBC meeting in İstanbul and Ankara had fruitful meetings.
We believe that the exchanges between high level business delegations are instrumental in further increasing trade and investment between Turkey and Canada. Executives of Turkish companies in various sectors such as food and beverages, fresh fruit and vegetables, timber and forestry, machinery, electronics, automotive, iron and steel, industrial refrigeration, textiles and shipyard/marine are participating in this trade mission. The sectors represented in this delegation indicate the tremendous untapped potential between our two countries. We will continue our work to increase such delegations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world, 6th largest in Europe and the fastest growing economy amongst the OECD. According to the OECD, Turkey is expected to continue to be the fastest growing economy among the OECD members in the period of 2018-2030 with an average of 4.3%. The average growth rate between 2011 and 2016 is 6.4 %. The recent OECD revised assessment even increased the expectations for next year.
Turkey has been pursuing sound macroeconomic strategies, prudent fiscal and monetary policies and realized structural reforms. Despite the turmoil in the adjacent regions, Turkey has enjoyed stability and predictability.
In the last 10 years, mega projects amounting to 250 billion USD were completed, including big scale energy and infrastructure investments - which Canada is all good at. Projects like the third bridge between Europe and Asia as well as the third airport in Istanbul - which will be the biggest in Europe - are only some examples.
Turkey’s comprehensive reform agenda has resulted in robust FDI inflows. Thus, in overall Turkey has outperformed many European countries: it attracted around $180 billion USD of FDI over the past 14 years, 12.3 billion USD of FDI only in 2016.
Between 2008 and 2016, 7.3 million new jobs were created.
According to the Turkish Exporters Assembly, Turkey recorded 142.6 billion USD of exports in the first 11 months of 2017. This is equal to Turkey’s total exports in 2016. So Turkey enjoys 12 months of continuous growth in exports.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Turkey offers significant opportunities for Canadian companies. Canada’s global markets action plan has named Turkey a top emerging market with broad Canadian interests. Export Development Canada has identified Turkey as a strategic market of opportunity for Canadian companies.
Currently there are mega projects such as construction of the third airport in Istanbul, 2 nuclear power plants (8 nuclear reactors in total), renewable energy infrastructures, high speed train projects and highways throughout the country.
Despite the flight distance of more than 8 thousand km. between our capital cities, trade between our two countries has been stable at around 2,4 billion CAD for the past 3 years. Our bilateral trade stands at around 800 million CAD in the first half of 2017. It reflects approximately 10% increase when compared with the same period in 2016. We hope this positive trend will continue towards the end of this year.
Total number of Canadian companies operating in Turkey reached to 377 as of October 2017. Canadian companies have already established successful businesses in sectors such as mining, agriculture, transportation and retail trade. We would like to see more trade and investments with Canada. Let me reiterate that so many companies from all over the world including our NATO-Western partners have been getting great contracts in Turkey or entering fruitful partnerships. We expect to see more Canadian interest to such opportunities.
In an atmosphere where both nations are attaching more importance to free trade, trade and investment between our countries require a more constructed framework. Signing of a Free Trade Agreement is one of our most important goals. Exploratory talks of a new generation and comprehensive FTA between Turkey and Canada were successfully completed four years ago. Likewise, Turkey is ready for the Joint Economic Commission - where we can discuss all issues. We expect response of the Canadian government on both.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know, a major terror attack took place on 15 July 2016 by Fethullahist Terror Organization – FETO, which was nesting within the army and other public agencies. Members of this terror group attempted a military coup using a tiny fraction of the army and it was immediately foiled by the Turkish people in one day who protected their parliament and democracy. Turkish economy successfully passed this challenge. Markets continued to operate in a normal manner immediately after the coup attempt just the other day. There has been no negative impact on the real economy. It is the proof of the strength and resilience of the Turkish economy.
A recent study conducted by the Turkish Exporters Assembly points out to a great interest towards Turkey in Canada, not only as a partner in bilateral trade, but also as a well-known tourism and cultural destination. In this regard, I would like to mention that Turkey is currently the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world, attracting more than 31 million tourists in 2016. Istanbul Atatürk Airport has become the biggest air hub in Europe surpassing the JFK and Frankfurt for the past two years.
Turkish Airlines grew significantly in the past two decades. Today, flying to more than 200 international destinations, it has become the airline which flies to the most countries in the world. With 4 hours flight from Istanbul you can reach to 1,5 billion people in 57 countries, a geography extending from Ireland to India. Turkish Airlines, being one of the biggest Turkish companies successfully investing in Canada, operates 9 direct flights from Toronto and Montreal to Istanbul weekly. We wish to see more social connectivity, more frequencies allocated to THY and more Canadian and Turkish businessmen travelling to and from Turkey.
I wish you all a successful conference. Thank you.
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