August 9 2006 at 12:30 AM
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
With massive income increases parallel to the rise in oil prices, wealthy Arab investors want to develop Turkey as an investment base.
The economic and political stability Turkey has achieved in the last four years during its EU accession process makes the country more attractive for Arab investors.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, due to arrive in the Turkish capital of Ankara today by invitation of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, will be accompanied by a delegation of 70 businessmen.
Investment talks in the sectors of energy, finance, tourism, the petrochemical industry and telecommunications will be held in this frame.
The privatizations in Turkey that the King plans to take advantage of are worth approximately $25 billion.
Saudi businessmen are interested in energy distribution tenders such as Petkim Petrochemical Plant, Halk Bank and sugar processing plants.
The King is also expected to invite Turkish entrepreneurs to invest in food processing, contracting and energy sectors in his country.
The $3-million worth of trade between the two countries is expected to double after the visit, signaling a new era in Saudi-Turkey relations.
King Abdullah will also join a meeting hosted by the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) on Thursday at Ciragan Palace Hotel in Istanbul, where he and PM Erdogan are expected to give an address.
At least three agreements are expected to be signed during King Abdullah’s visit.
Bilateral agreements on increasing political advisors between both countries’ foreign ministries, the mutual encouragement of investments and cooperation on road transportation will be signed in this frame.
Turkish-Saudi Business Council Chairman Ali Bayramoglu terms the visit as a “turning point,” and points out the importance of mutual understanding and dialogue to create new opportunities.
Mr. Bayramoglu added, “These relationships should not be restricted to just visits; they should be canalized into actual trade and industry growth. Turkey will become one of the main countries meeting the needs of Saudi Arabia if warm relationships continue to develop.”
Bayramoglu cited the issues expected to be discussed in the meeting as follows:
Increasing mutual investments and trade.
Solving visa issues affecting businessmen traveling to Turkey for investment.
Reducing bureaucratic procedure in both countries.
Gaining acceptance for guarantees given by Turkish banks to Saudi banks.
Removing the problems faced in transporting some goods.
Doubling trade volume between the two countries from three to six million dollars in the wake of the historic visit.
Ali Bayramoglu also said that preparations are already underway for Prime Minster Erdogan or Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to pay a reciprocal visit to Saudi Arabia after the Ramadan holiday.
80 percent of trade in petrol
Independent Industrialist and Businessmen's Association (MUSIAD) Foreign Relations Commission chairman Gazi Misirli emphasized the relationships between Saudi Arabia and Turkey are currently not at the desired level.
Misirli stated that countries, including Malaysia, surpassed Turkey at this point and said, “Though Saudi Arabia was unsure where to make new investments following the rise in oil prices, Turkish companies failed to enter in this country sufficiently. Major tenders are being held in Saudi Arabia, but very few Turkish contractors apply to take advantage of the opportunities available.”
Noting that King Abdullah receives invitations to visit many countries, Misirli said, “Major agreements were signed wherever King Abdullah visited. This visit is a historical opportunity for the Turkish economy and the country’s businessmen.”