Remarks by Ambassador Ahmet Akif Oktay at the Press Conference in Ho Chi Minh City on 1 December 2014
REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR AHMET AKİF OKTAY
AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE FIRST TURKISH PRODUCTS EXHIBITION IN VIETNAM
Ho Chi Minh City, 1December 2014
Distinguished members of the press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. Thank you for attending this press conference.
We are organizing this meeting on the occasion of the first Turkish Products Exhibition in Vietnam, which will be opened here in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday, the 3rd of December 2014, simultaneously with the 12th Vietnam International Trade Fair. It will continue until the 6th of December. The Exhibition’s principal organizers on the Turkish side are the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Turkey and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, represented here by Mr. Dursun Topçu, Vice President of the Chamber’s Executive Board, and Ms. Aysun Yılmaz, Coordinator of Fairs.
This Exhibition represents a milestone, as it is the first of its kind since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Vietnam in 1978. A record number of Turkish company representatives have come to Ho Chi Minh City for this purpose. We hope that it will be very successful and pave the way for more trade shows by Turkey in both Ho Chi Minh City and other major cities across Vietnam.
Alongside the Exhibition, cultural shows by a folk dance group and artists from Turkey will also take place. A preview of these shows will be offered during the “Turkish Cultural Night” Reception that we will be hosting in this hotel tomorrow evening. You are all invited and we hope to see you in that event as well.
In this meeting, Mr. Dursun Topçu will present you with information about the Turkish economy, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and the Exhibition itself. But before turning the floor over to him, I would like to provide a brief update on Turkey’s international economic engagements and the economic and trade relations between Turkey and Vietnam. After our statements, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
As I am sure many of you already know, Turkey is an industrialized Eurasian country with a population of nearly 77 million people. It has a young, well educated and qualified work force, a large domestic market and a competitive and dynamic private sector. Turkey has a highly developed infrastructure in major economic sectors such as transportation, telecommunications, energy, defense, health and tourism. It is a strategic energy terminal and corridor between Europe and Asia.
For more than a decade, Turkey has been following a policy of reaching out to Africa, Latin America and East Asia with a view to diversifying its foreign trade. As a result, total Turkish exports increased from around 36 billion USD in 2002 to 152 billion USD in 2013. Since 1996, Turkey has been in a Customs Union with the European Union, with which it is conducting accession negotiations. Up to now, the Turkish Government has also signed 22 Free Trade Agreements, while negotiations are in progress with 16 other countries and regional organizations.
On the other hand, Turkey’s membership of G-20 is an indicator of its growing role as a responsible stakeholder in global economic governance. Today, Turkey is taking over the Presidency of G-20 from Australia for one year. During its term, Turkey will focus its efforts on the effective implementation of commitments made by G-20 members towards the goals of global economic recovery and inclusive economic growth. As such, Turkey will seek tangible progress in such areas as stimulating investments, creating employment, strengthening the small and medium size enterprises, tackling climate change, improving access to energy resources and responding to the needs and expectations of developing countries.
The Asia-Pacific Region’s profile in Turkey’s foreign economic relations has been constantly growing. Turkey takes an active interest in the region as a vital economic and political center of gravity in the world. Southeast Asia, in particular, will play a more prominent role in Turkey’s international economic and trade relations in the future.
With that perspective, Turkey has been taking concrete steps towards deepening its engagement with the region. In the past few years, we opened new Embassies in Myanmar, Brunei and Cambodia and are planning to open new ones. As you know, Turkish Airlines is operating regular daily flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Istanbul, with plans to start flights to Hanoi as well. Turkey is also planning to open a Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in the near future.
Turkey’s trade with ASEAN countries is on an upward trajectory. It increased nearly 7-fold from 1.2 billion dollars in 2000 to 8.1 billion Dollars in 2013. In the case of Turkey and Vietnam, the volume of bilateral trade has grown 61 times in the period between 2000 and 2013.
In the first 9 months of this year, the trade volume exceeded 1.6 billion dollars and is expected to reach 2 billion dollars by the end of this year, preserving Turkey’s position as one of Vietnam’s leading economic partners in West Asia.
During the last session of the Turkish-Vietnamese Joint Economic and Trade Committee in Ankara on 15-16 January 2014, the two sides agreed to increase their bilateral trade to 3 billion Dollars by 2016. We believe we are making good progress in that direction.
On the other hand, Turkish investments in Vietnam are currently at a modest level and limited to a few areas. According to official Vietnamese figures, Turkey has 11 investments in Vietnam, with a total registered capital of around 71 million dollars. It is possible to attract more investments from Turkey to Vietnam through active promotion campaigns about the incentives offered to foreign investors. Health, tourism, energy, transportation, foodstuffs and textiles stand out as areas with a considerable potential for Turkish investments.
In order to boost economic and financial cooperation between the two countries, completing the legal framework is also important. The two countries have already signed the agreements on the prevention of double taxation and promotion of investments. In this regard, we believe that a Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and Vietnam will play a key role in the realization of the full potential of our economic partnership. To that end, we proposed an FTA to Vietnam back in 2009. We hope that we will start negotiations on this agreement sooner, rather than later.
This concludes my remarks for the time being. Thank you for your attention.