By Gokhan Ergocun and Tuba Sahin
ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey aims to push Turkish-African relations to the next level despite global protectionist winds, Turkey’s trade minister said on Wednesday.
"Turkey and Africa’s economic relations entered a golden era with Turkey's outreach to Africa that started in 2003," Ruhsar Pekcan told the Second Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum in Istanbul.
The two-day forum is being attended by 46 countries, three regional organizations, and eight credit agencies, she said.
"It brings together 3,000 African and Turkish businesspeople," Pekcan said.
Over the last 15 years, Turkey's trade volume with Africa quadrupled from $5 billion to over $20 billion, she added.
In this period, Turkey’s exports to Africa rose from $2.1 billion to $11.7 billion, and its imports rose from $3.3 billion to $8.9 billion, she explained.
"Turkish investments in Africa exceeded $6.2 billion, and Turkish companies offer employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people on the continent," Pekcan said.
Over the last 15 years Turkish contractors have also undertaken hundreds of projects worth $55 billion, she said, and added:
"In other words, over these 15 years our private sector discovered the continent again."
The forum was organized by Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board in coordination with Turkey’s Trade Ministry and the African Union as part of a 100-day action plan the government recently introduced to support the economy.
The two-day forum will feature a ministerial meeting themed "Fair, Free and Sustainable Trade" as well as panel discussions on cooperation in construction, infrastructure, and energy, and trade and investment in Africa.