Keynote Speech By H.e. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal At The Nato Economy Forum (27 February 2015, Toronto) , 06.03.2015
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 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.
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.
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 worldwide.
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 activities.
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.
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 meeting.