Opening Remarks by Ambassador Selçuk Ünal, Turkey – Canada Business and Investment Conference, University Club of Toronto
Mr. Ömer Cihad Vardan, President of Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey- DEİK,
Mr. Osman Okyay, President of Turkey-Canada Business Council,
The Honourable Gar Knutson, Chairman and Mr. Ömer Al-Katib, President of Canada-Turkey Business Council,
Mr. Allan O’Dette, President of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce,
Deputy Mayor Mr Minnan-Wong,
Distinguished representatives of Canadian and Turkish industries,
I would like to thank DEİK, CTBC, and Ontario Chamber of Commerce for their successful co-organization of this event. I also thank sponsors Kale Group and AGT Foods for their support. I wish the two lucky participants a pleasant trip who will be travelling to Istanbul courtesy of Turkish Airlines and Hilton Istanbul, who also kindly supported this initiative.
Today’s attendance is a concrete example of the great interest in the business world of our two countries in business, commercial, economic and investment fields. Turkey, being the 17th largest economy in the world, 6th largest in Europe and the fastest growing economy amongst the OECD, offers significant opportunities in business. Turkish government has been pursuing sound macroeconomic strategies, prudent fiscal and monetary policies and realized structural reforms. As a result, Turkey has enjoyed an uninterrupted economic growth in the last 29 quarters.
Turkey has managed to attract foreign direct investment over 170 billion $ in total since 2002. In 2015, compared to the previous year, FDI figure increased by 35% to 16.9 billion USD despite the ongoing regional tensions. Turkey has become one of the most attractive direct investment destination in 2015. In the last 10 years, mega projects with an amount of 250 billion USD were completed, including big scale energy and infrastructure investments. I am not going into the details of the economic performance of Turkey as the distinguished speakers will elaborate in the coming sessions. Let me only say that Turkish entrepreneurs are also encouraged to increase their investments in overseas including Canada. And I am happy to see the Turkish businessmen who are investing in Canada herein in this meeting today.
I would like to underline that Turkish economy successfully passed a great test after the coup attempt back in July. Turkish people resisted and united to defend democracy. Financial markets continued to operate the next day in a normal manner and maintained their activities. There has been no negative impact on the real economy which is a significant proof of the strength and resilience of the Turkish economy, just like its democracy.
We are working to further advance trade and investments between our two countries via bilateral contacts. In his first overseas visit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the G20 Summit in Turkey in November 2015, followed by Minister Stephane Dion’s visit to Istanbul in February 2016. Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication, Ahmet Arslan and Minister of Trade and Customs, Bülent Tüfenkçi visited Canada in October this year, followed by the visit of the Minister of European Affairs, Ömer Çelik in November 2016. Turkish Deputy Minister of Economy attended DEİK-CTBC Annual Conference in May of this year in Ottawa which was attended by some 60 companies in various sectors. Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong, who is here with us today, led a delegation of executives of 17 companies from the Greater Toronto Area to Istanbul last November. In two events hosted by DEİK and Istanbul Chamber of Commerce around 170 Turkish companies connected with their Canadian counterparts.
These initiatives have been successful in increasing our bilateral trade volume to 2,6 billion Canadian Dollars during the past two years. However, there is much room for further development in our bilateral trade and investments. The opportunities are also present here for Turkish companies which are planning to invest in or trade with Canada. We aim to increase trade in agricultural products, pulpwood, paper and chemicals, initiate investments in agricultural machinery, further support trade and investments in the field of energy, especially but not limited to the oil and gas sector and continue to pursue joint projects in the defence and aviation sectors. We are trying to increase air frequencies for more inter-connectivity for commercial transportation.
The exploratory talks of a new generation and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and Canada were successfully completed three years ago. The official negotiations are expected to be initiated by the Canadian government. We also await an official response from the Canadian government for the initiation of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee – JETCO.
While concluding I would like to make three concrete observations:
1) I wish to urge you to become a member of Canada-Turkey Business Council, which works relentlessly to promote business, trade and investments between our two countries as the only representative in this field.
2) Education sector: Canadian side should focus more on this sector of business.
3) Visa: It is a long standing issue unresolved. To give an example, a number of executives of Turkish companies, who are Members of Board of Turkey-Canada Business Council could not join us today because of the long visa processes. I believe, we should tackle this issue in the coming period if we aim to increase our economic relations.
I wish you all a successful conference.
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