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A Glorious New Chapter

Tugay Tunçer, Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to the UAE
Tugay Tunçer, Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to the UAE

Tugay Tunçer Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to the UAE is optimistic that the official visit of President H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have a tremendous impact on both sides leading to greater cooperation and development



Published: Fri 11 Feb 2022, 12:00 AM

H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the UAE has been termed historic. Can you tell us how does this transcribes for the relations between both nations?

Historic is indeed the right term for the visit of our President. It will be the first presidential level visit from Türkiye in more than a decade. The last time H.E. President Erdoğan visited Abu Dhabi was in 2010. Therefore, his upcoming visit to the UAE, which will take place soon, will by itself serve as a testimony to the revitalisation of close ties between our countries and will underline the mutual will to strengthen bilateral relations further.

The visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Türkiye last November was a milestone in our bilateral relations as well. During His Highness’s visit, more than ten cooperation agreements were concluded between Türkiye and the UAE, which symbolised the opening of a new chapter in our relations. Since then, bilateral contacts at every level have increased and our cooperation has developed in almost every field. Ahead of the visit of H.E. President Erdoğan, additional agreements are in the pipeline. You will very soon hear about those. Thus, we continue to move forward in line with our positive bilateral agenda. The visit of H.E. President Erdoğan will demonstrate the height we have reached in our relations in such a short period of time.

How will the improved bilateral ties contribute to regional peace and enhanced cooperation?

The security and stability of the Gulf region and the Middle East is of utmost importance for us. We value our close ties with the countries of the region and we want to increase our cooperation for the mutual interests of our peoples. The challenges we face in the region are numerous and only through dialogue and cooperation we can overcome them. We should be looking for ‘win-win’ solutions rather than ‘zero-sum’ games.

We believe that cooperation and dialogue between Türkiye and the UAE will not only benefit our respective countries, but also our region as a whole. Together, we can contribute to the peace, stability, security and prosperity of our region.

What are the most important industries in bilateral trade between both countries currently, and into which other sectors are you planning to further explore?

The UAE is our main trading partner in the GCC region and second in the Arab world. Bilateral trade volume between Türkiye and the UAE amounted to $8.5 billion in 2020. Türkiye's exports to the UAE stood at $2.8 billion, while its imports reached $5.6 billion in 2020. Also, the figures of the first 11 months of 2021 are promising; our exports to the UAE in this period realized as $4.8 billion with a 108 per cent of increase compared to the same period the previous year. During this period, bilateral trade volume reached US$7 billion.

Our main trading items are gold, diamond and jewellery, precious metals as well as natural stones, carpets, furniture and eggs. On the other hand, Türkiye’s imports from the UAE are largely composed of petroleum oils and products, plastic and petrochemical products and aluminium.

Nevertheless, we believe that the amount of the bilateral trade is far from reflecting our potential. The trade volume should be increased and we should diversify this product range to include other major industries of the food and agriculture, manufacturing, and services sectors.

Türkiye Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
Türkiye Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

The UAE announced a $10 billion fund to support mainly strategic investments in Türkiye, including in the health and energy fields. What boost will this provide to the GDP of the country?

Türkiye has a pivotal role in terms of trade and investment between Europe, Middle East and Central Asia as well as Africa. As a natural bridge between East and West and the North-South axes, Türkiye is an efficient and cost-effective hub to major markets, offering easy access to 1.3 billion people and $26 trillion worth of trade volume with a four-hour flight radius. Our economy is the fastest-growing economy in Europe and the OECD, with an average annual real GDP growth rate of 5.1 per cent in the 2003-2020 period. With a skilled and competitive labour force, well-developed infrastructure and liberal foreign investment law, we are expecting more investors in the upcoming years.

We give utmost importance to mutual investments between Türkiye and the UAE. Currently, the UAE has significant investments in Türkiye with over 500 Emirati companies in the fields of tourism, banking, ports and retailing sectors and it is amounting to $4.9 billion in 2020. We are also pleased to see that the UAE has named Türkiye as among the most important eight destinations for investments and announced $10 billion fund to support strategic sectors such as energy, petrochemicals, technology, transportation, infrastructure, healthcare, financial services, food and agriculture in Türkiye.

In terms of renewable energy and healthcare sectors, we have a considerable amount of potential and a strong infrastructure. We are also seeking to cooperate in the fields of construction, tourism, agriculture, finance, logistics as well as customs and trade sectors.

Through mutual investments and funding on strategic sectors, I am certain that in the coming years we will see a positive impact not only on national GDP, but also on the banking and financial sectors as well as the fast-growing start-up businesses in Türkiye.

What, in your view, are the foreign investment trends that will strengthen the economy of Türkiye?

With a population of almost 85 million, half of which is under the age of 32, Türkiye has the largest youth population in Europe. In this vein, Türkiye is an important hub of attraction for international investors with strategic location, modern logistics infrastructure, incentive packages broad production potentials, skilled and dedicated labour force.

Facilitating business initiatives, providing a business-friendly environment and increasing attractiveness of the investment environment, especially for the international investors, are amongst the main priorities of the Turkish government. In this regard, we are strengthening logistics infrastructure consistently in order to enhance the competitiveness of the national economy, to amplify the production of value-added products and to increase foreign direct investments.

What is the current strength of the Turkish companies, and the community at large in the UAE? How will the visit boost the confidence of the Turkish people living in the UAE?

Currently there are almost thirty thousand Turkish citizens and more than 600 Turkish companies in the UAE. Most of them have been settled and well-integrated into the UAE society and economy for more than 10 years. Turkish companies are mainly carrying out their businesses in the fields of hospitality, food and beverage, retail and construction. The Turkish investment in the UAE is almost equal to $720 million. Turkish constructors have completed 141 projects with a value of $12.6 billion so far. In the upcoming years, we aim to improve our share in the foreign investments in the UAE in logistics, finance, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors.

Building economic partnerships between the two countries enhances the direct interactions between Turkish and Emirati citizens as well. Mehmet Muş, the Turkish Minister of Trade, visited the UAE on the occasion of the 10th session of Joint Economic Commission meeting on November 2021. On the margins of this visit, the Business Council meeting was also held, where both public and private sector representatives came together and discussed the trade and investment opportunities. Mevlut Çavuşoğlu, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs also paid a visit to the UAE on December15, 2021 and met with the representatives of the Turkish business people in the UEA. In this regard, the official visit of our President will have a tremendous impact for both sides in terms of fortifying people-to-people relations both for the Turkish people living in the UAE and the Emiratis in Türkiye.

Can you give us highlights of what is being planned at the Expo 2020 Dubai over the remaining tenure?

Türkiye joined the Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, under the theme of ‘Creating the Future from the Starting Point of Civilisations’.

Türkiye has been actively participating in worldwide Expo organisations since 1851. With our deep historical culture, unique geography, strong economy and all other values, we have taken our place in Expo 2020 Dubai events and met our visitors with a concept and content befitting its vision and mission in order to leave a more livable and greener world to future generations.

We believe that the programmes, organisations and theme-oriented events that we will organise during the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai, will lead to significant opportunities in terms of further strengthening our bilateral and multilateral relations in many areas. During his visit to the UAE in February 2022, H.E. President Erdoğan is expected to honour the ‘National Day of Türkiye’ programme to be held at Expo 2020. On our national day, we are planning various events such as cultural shows, fashion shows, B2B networking, etc.


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