Keynote Speech By H.e. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal "doing Business In Turkey" Seminar , 20.03.2015
20 March 2015, Toronto
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to address the distinguished representatives of Canadian industries and business world. I would like to thank Allam Advisory Group for the organization of this event, especially to CEO Omar Allam. I would also like to thank Canadian – Turkish Business Council, Woods Lafortune LLP, Export Development Canada and Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey for their support to this organization.
It is a pleasure to see and contribute to the growing interest towards Turkey in Canada, especially in the commercial and economic domains. Turkey, a member of NATO and G20, is a country offering significant opportunities for foreign investors with its geographically vital position. The opportunities exist not only in the dynamic domestic market, but also throughout the region.
During the past two decades, Istanbul has become a hub for transport, energy, business, arts and culture between the regions of Europe, Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia. 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. 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. When you look at Turkey, you look also beyond the country.
It also works the other way around. Turkish entrepreneurs can also use Canada as a hub for their businesses to expand into north America. I believe that Canada’s developed transportation system and IT infrastructure, efficient customs authorities and logistics professionals will help Turkish companies’ endeavours. Turkish and Canadian businessmen can establish partnerships to make trade and investments flourish in these regions to their mutual benefits.
The 2001 financial crisis has put Turkey on the right course. It led to a reformation of the banking sector, public financial management and taxation. New legislation was introduced in order to maintain the efficiency of regulatory bodies in the financial sector. Parallel to these reforms, a comprehensive transformation was accomplished in the energy, transportation and communication sectors which were critical for a strong economy. Especially, the strength of the banking sector since then has been providing a buffer against external shocks. We achieved political stability, fiscal discipline, reduced the borrowing costs and decreased the ratio of public debt to GDP.
Based on those achievements, I wish to focus on five key areas:
- The significant progress in these areas mitigated the adverse effects of the global crises on our economy and 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) and GDP per capita (PPP) more than tripled since 2001 and reached 820 billion USD and 18,000 USD respectively.
- 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.
- Turkey has emerged as a top investment destination for foreign investors with its established political system, mature and dynamic private sector, improvement in tax system, liberal and secure investment environment and growing domestic market. 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. We give priority to innovative and technology intensive projects, that will increase the productive capacity and efficiency of our economy. In the Energy sector, Turkey is planning to realize 130 billion USD in investments in the coming ten years. In fact, major international credit rating agencies demonstrated their confidence in our economic program by raising the rating outlook of our country.
- 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.
- Finally, I would also like to briefly mention 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 supports tourism and trade.
And what is our goal?
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 such an environment, where does Turkey-Canada relations stand?
The relations between Turkey and Canada continue to progress steadily in many fields. More than a dozen Canadian mining companies successfully operate in Turkey. Bilateral trade was around 2,5 billion US Dollars in 2014. We believe the current levels of trade and investment volume between our countries do not represent the real potential.
EDC has identified Turkey as a strategic market of opportunity for Canadian firms.
Canada’s new Global Markets Action Plan has named Turkey as a top emerging market with broad Canadian interests.
Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has published a report on Turkey last year and has come up with six recommendations to the Canadian government: 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.
Speaking of FTA, 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. Likewise, the negotiation of an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation has created an environment more conducive to bilateral investment activities.
I am also pleased to inform you that a number of high level visits are planned for this year.
After the visit of Speaker of the Turkish parliament, a high level delegation from the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture held fruitful talks with their Canadian counterparts in Ottawa. Having just returned from Alberta to hold economic-commercial talks with public and private entities, I will again be in Alberta next week with a crowded delegation headed by the Turkish Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources who will visit Ontario and Alberta. In May of this year, the Canadian Turkish Business Council, working with various provinces, will organize an economic mission and coordinate a conference in Turkey that will focus on key sectors of opportunity for Canadian firms. We expect the Ministers of Agriculture, International Trade and Natural Resources visit to Turkey for G20 Ministerial Meetings to be organized this year. All of these visits and events represent significant opportunities to further advance trade and investment between two trading nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I also wish to give information on 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 underline that Turkey offers significant opportunities for foreign investors. Murat Özdemir, Country Advisor in Canada from the Turkish Investment Support and Promotion Agency will give you more detailed information in his presentation. The time is now right to take the next step. We will strive for increasing the current levels of trade and investment between our countries to its full potential.
I would like to thank once again to all organizers for this meeting.