Keynote Speech By H.E. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal At The Nato Economy Forum (Toronto)

Selçuk Ünal 27.02.2015

Distinguished Guests,

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.

Distinguished Guests,

As a member of NATO and G20, 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.

Distinguished Guests,

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 for the continuous growth of our country.

Turkey’s total trade volume exceeded 400 billion US dollars in 2014.

Gross domestic product (GDP) more than tripled since 2001 and reached 820 billion

US dollars at the end of 2013. Moreover, the GDP per capita has tripled in the same

period to 11,000 US dollars in 2014. GDP per capita according 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 143 billion US

dollars with 12,5 billion 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 % and has become the fastest growing economy in Europe and

amongst the OECD countries. It is expected to grow by 3 % in 2015 and 4 % in

2016, according to the latest OECD report.

Turkey has a growing and dynamic domestic market with its 77 million population

with more than 60 % of the population below the age of 24.

Distinguished Guests,

Turkish exports in 2014 totalled to 158 billion US dollars. The total volume of

investments abroad made by some 4000 Turkish companies has reached to 30 billion

US dollars. However, North America region could only attract 135 Million US

dollars of Turkish investment until 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

secured 26 billion dollars’ worth of contracts for 433 projects




The relations between Turkey and Canada continue to progress steadily in many fields.

The number of Canadian mining companies operating in Turkey is increasing. Despite

the economic downturn in 2009, bilateral trade stood at around 2,4 billion 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.

Turkey is part of the Customs Union of the EU and has 18 Free Trade Agreements (FTA) in

force, and with EFTA. Also to boost trade with Canada, Turkey wishes to sign an

FTA. Exploratory talks for this aim between the two countries completed in 2014.

We are now waiting for the date 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


Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has published a

report on Turkey in June 2013 and has 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, Turkey has

become the 6th tourism destination in the world. We hosted more than 41 million

tourists in 2014. 200 thousand of them were Canadian tourists visiting Turkey. 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 the global hub status of Istanbul once again. 57 million of them

was travelling with Turkish Airlines. Just to give you an example, you can reach to

more than a dozen countries with a 1 hour flight from Istanbul and within 4

hours from Istanbul to both sides of the world from Istanbul
you can reach to

1,5 billion people in 57 countries, a geography extending from Ireland to India.

I am also pleased to inform you that a number of high level visits are planned for this

year. Last night the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament departed from Toronto after a

5 day visit to Canada. Turkish Minister of Agriculture will be visiting Canada in first half of March 2015

and Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources in the second half. A Seminar 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 visits and events represent

significant opportunities to further advance trade and investment between our

two countries.

Distinguished guests,

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 that Turkey 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. We will continue

to strive for raising the current levels of trade and investment between our

countries to its full potential. I would like to thank once again to Atlantic

Council of Canada for the successful organization of this


Thank you.

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