In his speech at the Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum, the President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu touched on the investments of Turkish companies in Egypt saying that these investments do not even represent 10% of the full potential and stated that there is a great cooperation opportunity in terms of trade and investment ahead of them.​


Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

There are great cooperation opportunities ahead of us with Egypt

30.09.2012 / Ankara


In his speech at the Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum, the President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu touched on the investments of Turkish companies in Egypt saying that these investments do not even represent 10% of the full potential and stated that there is a great cooperation opportunity in terms of trade and investment ahead of them.​


The Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum was held with the attendance of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Dr. Mohammed Mursî and hosted by the TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu. Also attending the Forum were, Vice President Deputy Beşir Atalay, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Arab Republic of Egypt Treasury Minister Dr. Mümtaz Al Said, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Aşraf El Arabî, Commerce and Industry Minister Hatem Saleh, Egypt Commerce Chambers Federation President Ahmed Al-Wakîl and representatives of the Turkish and Egyptian business communities.

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu started his speech by expressing his gratitude for the attendance of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Mohammed Mursî to the Forum.

- “Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum will strengthen the bridges between us”

Reminding that the Turkish-Egyptian Business Council has been a bridge between the two business worlds since 1992, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The Co-Presidents of the Business Council, Mrs. Zuhal Mansfield and Mr. Muhammed Abdu El-Lamey have just completed their presentation. They have talked about the opportunities in the economies of Egypt and Turkey. The businessmen of our two countries have taken part in bilateral business talks. They have assessed joint project possibilities. With Mr. Mursî’s attendance today, the Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum will strengthen the bridges between us. In the future, we will hopefully do much more than we have done in the last 20 years.”

Stating that Egypt Commerce Chambers Federation President Ahmed Al-Wakîl is a great opportunity for the development of Egypt’s economy, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Whether it is the Islamic Chambers Union or the Union of Mediterranean Chambers, he has undertaken great works. With great bilateral relations, he is the voice of Egypt in both the Islamic and Mediterranean regions. In this regard, we had signed the agreement for the establishment of the Turkish-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with my dear friend and brother Al-Wakîl. The Turkish-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will begin to serve our business communities soon with the support of governments. May it be beneficial to both of our countries.”

- “Mursî has been recorded in history as Egypt’s first civil president”

Touching on the developments of recent years in North Africa and the Middle East, the TOBB President said, “Not much, just three years ago, if someone had told us that our region would undergo a great change, probably nobody would have believed them. The democracy movement which started towards the end of 2010 in Tunisia drew the attention of the whole world to North Africa and the Middle East. The people lit the torch of revolution in friend and sister country Egypt as well. The transformation began in Tunisia but Egypt became the symbol of change. Tahrir Square became one of the symbols of the 21st century. Once again, I wish it to benefit Egypt and its people. May Allah forever stand beside you.

There are still serious problems in our region today. As we are all quite aware there is a human drama being played out in Syria. We find that Turkey and Egypt’s accord in this critical time is of the utmost importance for the stability of the region. While many countries stand aside as they witness this tragedy, our government opened the borders to thousands of refugees. Turkey has always been on the side of the people of Syria.

We are following the approach of Mr. Mursî to the matter of Syria closely. He has stated his sensitivity to the situation by saying ‘I will not rest easy while the war in Syria continues.’ As two great countries of the same region, it gives us great hope to be of a single mind in these kinds of issues. We believe that as long as this understanding exists, our region will be more peaceful in the future.

In this process, a very important task falls to us. The economic transformation of our region is just as critical as the political transformation process. This is because democracy and economy are inseparable. You cannot develop democracy without developing the economy. You cannot prosper without increasing the quality of democracy. Remember! What started the Arab Spring was the revolt of one unemployed youth. This revolt lit the fire that toppled the dictators of many years.”

- “Turkey’s economy leapt into a new age in a short time”

Stating that there has been a period of rapid transformation lately, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said that Turkey had undergone a similar period recently.

Emphasizing that Turkey has leapt into a new age in a short time with the steps taken in the last 30 years and the reforms enacted in the last 10 years, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “30 years ago, the per capita income was 2,000 Dollars while today, it has exceeded 10,000 Dollars. Turkey has become the world’s 18th and Europe’s 6th largest economy. Today, we have the strongest private sector between Italy and China with a free market economy. We are the industrial giant of the region!

30 years ago, we exported a total of 3 billion Dollars a year, 90% of which was agricultural goods. Today, we export a sum of 150 billion Dollars yearly and 92% of it is industrial goods. Add to that the fact that we are selling our goods to the most competitive markets in the world, Europe and America. One of every three televisions sold in Europe are Turkish goods, as is one in every four home appliances. At this point, 23 of the 100 largest Islamic companies in the world are Turkish companies.

- Egypt will carry on its rapid revolution in democracy to the economy as well”

Pointing out that the rapid transformation of Turkey was started by the late Özal, an engineer in the 1980’s, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The late Özal opened the way for three things: freedom of enterprise, freedom of religion and conscience and the freedom of expression. Without these freedoms we cannot find entrepreneurs and those of entrepreneurial spirit to take on risk, to invest in the future. We must for the entrepreneurial middle class. The mortar of the country’s unity and solidarity, of its development and prosperity is an enterprising middle class.

Mr. President, you are, like Turgut Özal, an engineer. We believe that your Presidency herald democratic and economic progress in both Egypt and in the Middle East. That is how we view your involvement in the Turkish business world even while attending to internal matters of state. This is a matter of vision! I hope that under your leadership, Egypt will carry on its rapid revolution in democracy to the economy as well. This understanding will enrich the Egyptian people and the region. I would like to welcome you once more in the presence of our guests and thank you for being with us today.”

- “There are great opportunities for commerce and investment ahead of us”

Touching on the investments of Turkish companies in Egypt, TOBB President said that investments in Egypt are around 2 billion Dollars at the moment and went on, “Over 200 Turkish companies are providing employment to 50,000 of our Egyptian brothers. Turkish construction companies have completed 25 projects totaling a sum of 600 million Dollars. Many projects are still underway. As of 2011 our trade reached 4 billion Dollars. This is a good number but rest assured it is not even 10% of our potential. There are great opportunities for commerce and investment ahead of us.”

- Global Business Bridges Initiative

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they have started a project with the European Union and Economy Ministry as TOBB, the Global Business Bridges Initiative, aiming to achieve a heretofore unprecedented achievement, “We will bring together the companies in the European Union, Turkey and Egypt. We will enable them to work together, investment even merge. The project also encompasses Tunisia and Palestine.

Our thought organization, TEPAV, has completed its feasibility research. We have determined tangible and promising goals for our SMEs to focus on such as transportation and logistics, dairy products, ready to wear clothing, shopping malls, retail, solar energy and water heating systems and tourism. We will bring together the firms operating in these sectors. We hope that great opportunities for all three sides will emerge. We are working with ‘win-win-win’ as our philosophy.

We are holding a conference in İstanbul tomorrow to start this enterprise off. High level public and private sector representatives from Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, EU and Turkey will be present. We will visit Egypt with those companies which are prepared to cooperate to Egypt and introduce them to their counterparts. The Egypt Commerce Chambers Federation will play a critical role during this process. Mr. President, we would like to hold this meeting under your patronage in Egypt and request your support.”

- “We saw the love of the Egyptian people firsthand during the revolution”

Emphasizing that Turkey and Egypt are two important countries of the Mediterranean, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Besides our regional proximity we have deep rooted ties which connect us on the historical and cultural level. Today, Mr. Mursî talked about the Egyptian people’s love for us and relayed their greetings. We saw the love of the Egyptian people firsthand during the revolution. During that calamitous time, Egyptians protected the facilities flying the Turkish flag themselves just as they would have if they were their own. You would not see this anywhere else. That is why we also love the Egyptian people and greet them through you.”

- “57 Islamic countries don’t add up to one Germany”

TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the Islamic world is unable to turn their fraternal ties with each other into actual benefits; that he is in communication with all Islamic countries as the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“I would like to share with you something which saddens me deeply,” said Hisarcıklıoğlu and went on, “Today, of 48 poorest countries in the world, 22 are Islamic countries. Today, the countries which struggle with famine, which have no production power, which have weak economies and whose people live in destitute are Islamic countries unfortunately.

Can you imagine that we are 23% of the world’s population and hold 75% of its energy resources, but even so, 22 of the world’s poorest countries are Islamic countries? What happened to all Muslims being brothers? Weren’t we the ones who would not sleep easy while our neighbors went hungry? Despite all this population and natural resources we only produce 7.5% of the world total production and take part of global trade amounting to 11% of the total.

57 Islamic countries don’t add up to one Germany. This is why the Islamic world is living in poverty, because we can’t come together, act as one. It is written that there is grace and prosperity in unity; anguish in dissent.”

- Requests from the business world

Touching on the subject of visas, Hisarcıklıoğlu addressed President Mursî, “An Egyptian proverb says ‘a foot is not enough to walk on’. As long as we do not lift visas between us, we are bound to a single foot. We say we’re brothers but we can’t even visit each other’s houses without visas.

Our second request is regarding TIR carnets. Egypt is not party to the United Nations TIR Agreement. Being party to this agreement would significantly help developing the trade between Egypt and Turkey.

Another request we would make as the business world is regarding Ro-Ro routes. As you well know, we have signed the Turkey-Egypt Ro-Ro Route and Land Transportation Memorandum of Understanding. Our request from Mr. Mursî is that the number of runs are increased and bureaucratic costs be lowered to the minimum. This way, Turkish and Egyptian entrepreneurs all the way from Morocco to Saudi Arabia can prosper together.

Mr. President, I believe that the Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum will be an important start for taking these steps. We will undertake many more and better co-operations together.

- Mursî: “Our ties should be direct. Visas shouldn’t be necessary. Customs taxes shouldn’t be present.”

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mohammed Mursî stated that he is very happy to be in their sister country, Turkey and that his heart is filled with love and admiration, stating that they consider Turkey as their “second homeland”.

Stating that they have been holding important meetings, Mursî said that they share the same goals and strategies with Turkey and that two sister countries have much in common, that there is more cooperation than competition.

Mursî said that there is no unreachable goal as long as the representatives of the business communities cooperate, stating that Turkey and Egypt share bonds which reaching far back in history.

Mursî said, “We are ready to cooperate. Our duty is to remove obstacles to trade. We must encourage bilateral trade.

I am waiting for a resolution to the situation in Syria for land transportation agreements. We must provide a good example so as to inspire other countries.”

President Mursî, speaking of Egypt-Turkey relations, stability and social justice, went on, “No ruler can abandon these. It grieves us immensely that children are being killed in Syria. We cannot turn a blind eye to this. We must call for a stop to the bloodshed. Brother nations and governments must get involved in this. Egypt, Turkey, Sauid Arabia, the Gulf countries and other world countries must call for a stop to the violence in Syria.”

- Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan

Following President Mursî, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan made a speech touching on the need for the development of trade between the two countries for the benefit of both countries and that the businessmen of both countries should research the possibilities of collaborating in third countries.

Stating that they have come to agreement on several issues with the Egypt Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Hatem Saleh, Çağlayan said, “Among these is turning the Free Trade Agreement into a second generation free trade agreement as soon as possible. A very important agreement has just been signed, witnessed by our President and Prime Minister. As per this agreement an aid package of 2 billion Dollars will be given to Egypt by Turkey.”

Çağlayan said that Ro-Ro runs on the routes of Mersin-Dimyat, İskenderun-Dimyat will start operations soon.

- Egypt Commerce and Industry Minister Hatem Saleh

Speaking at the Forum, the Egyptian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Hatem Saleh stated that the yearly increasing trade volume the two countries is expected to reach 5 billion Dollars by the end of this year.

Stating that they put great importance on the investments of Turkish businessmen in Egypt and that they are awaiting more investors in Egypt, Saleh said, “Turkish companies are very dear to us.” Saying that there are great opportunities for cooperation between Turkey and Egypt, Saleh said that Egypt must take advantage of Turkish businessmen’s experiences and accumulation in the field of industry if Egypt is to advance its own industry.

Egypt Commerce Chambers Federation President Ahmed Al-Wakîl stated that Egypt has taken great steps in reaffirming trust needed by the foreign capital after the democratic shift and that large capital investors such as Siemens and Toyota are beginning to return. Al-Wakîl said, “With our sister country, Turkey’s support Egypt will once again become a center of production.”

- 160 million Dollar agreement

After the speeches, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Dr. Mohammed Mursî, Vice President Deputy Beşir Atalay and the Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan acted as witness to the trade agreement signed between Elif Plastik and the Egyptian company, Industrial Development Group, for a total value of 160 million Dollars.

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