Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

“The Sarajevo Business Forum has become a global brand”

17.04.2019 / Sarajevo

The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF), held regularly for 10 years, has become a global brand.​

Organized within the scope of the forum by the Bosna Bank International (BBI) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) with Anadolu Agency (AA) as the Global Communications Partner, a panel was held on the subject of Leadership.

Speaking at the panel attended by Vice President Fuat Oktay, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the SBF is a very successful initiative that investors all over the world have shown interest in, “The regularly held Sarajevo Business Forum has become a global brand.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu emphasized that the SBF contributed a great deal to the region and the Bosnia and Herzegovina economy and stated that TOBB would continue to support this forum in the future as well.

Hisarcıklıoğlu noted the Turkey great importance puts on relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Our history with Bosnia and Herzegovina, our culture, our customs share origins. We also would like to strengthen the economic relationship between our countries.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, pointing out that the Free Trade Agreement forms a robust business volume platform between the two countries, that the 2003 trade volume of 71 million USD has today reached 700 million USD and they are aiming to increase to this to 1 billion USD.

Reporting that 100 Turkish firms are doing business in sectors such as banking, agriculture, manufacturing, construction and tourism in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that these firms invest in the economy of the country over 600 million EUR and employ approximately 4,000 people.

Hisarcıklıoğlu said that Turkey has increased its trade with the Balkan countries in the last 15 years from 3.5 billion USD to 20 billion USD, and that this increase was achieved despite the global economic crisis.

Noting that Balkans geographically are Turkey's gateway into the European continent, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that Turkey is also the gateway to Asia and the Middle East for the Balkans.

- Vice President Fuat Oktay

Vice President Fuat Oktay stated that the Western Balkans act as a crossroads between east and west as well as north and south, “Their proximity to the European Union is of the utmost important for the region's countries. Integration in the EU is a major advantage for the development of a common vision.”

Oktay said that there is a sense of unity in the region. “Our wish is for unity of vision. One region, one economy.”

Oktay, pointing to the need to focus on common interests and values instead of the disadvantages in the region, said, “These values ​​can at times be cultural, demographic or geographic. We can find many advantages if we observe carefully. We should cooperate instead of competing.”

Emphasizing that the Western Balkans served as a bridge between the east and west and the north and the south, Oktay said, “Their proximity to the European Union is of the utmost important for the region's countries. Integration in the EU is a major advantage for the development of a common vision.”

Oktay stated that being close to EU countries also provides proximity to technology and market, and that young and educated population can benefit from cultural diversity, business opportunities and innovations.

Stating that Turkey’s approach is important in building successful relationships with Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other countries in the world, Oktay said, “Our approach never considers using the resources of another country for our country's own benefit. Instead of taking, we focus on giving. We do not think what we can gain. Especially in aid. The most important example is the 4.6 million refugees in Turkey.”

Oktay said that trust has a key role for the countries in the region, “Trust opens the way for long, successful cooperation.”

Stressing that Turkey contributes to the region in the fields of agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, energy and defense, Oktay finished his speech by saying, “There are already difficulties in the region. Finance, heavy bureaucracy and security are among some of them. For finance there are PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects in Turkey. Turkey has immense experience on this issue. Although we only began last year, we’ve achieved 135 billion USD in revenue from these projects. Turkey can transfer these to the region. The solution to heavy bureaucracy is through structural reform. Terrorism, security, war and conflict must be a matter of unified vision. Today I can see that unity of vision here.”

- “Bosnia and Herzegovina needs more change”

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak stressed that the reforms they have made on their way to EU membership constitute the conditions for further investment and economic development, and stressed that today's business forum is supported by everyone despite all political disputes in the country.

Stating that EU membership and regional cooperation are among their priorities, despite recent good results, Crnadak emphasized that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs more change.

Crnadak pointed out the importance of steps to be taken in the areas of combating corruption and strengthening the rule of law, and said it was essential to strengthen the private sector by increasing investments in the country.

Malaysian Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa said that his country has been cooperating with Bosnia and Herzegovina for many years and said, “Malaysia was also present during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Malaysia stood with Bosnia and Herzegovina during that time in many fields ranging from humanitarian aid to education.”

Stating that they want to contribute to the peace and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rawa said they will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is showing growth every year.

Montenegrin Labor and Social Welfare Minister Kemal Purisic stressed the need to develop a common answer to the problems of the countries in the region and said that the region has made significant economic development in recent years.

- Meetings

As a part the scope of Sarajevo Business Forum, Hisarcıklıoğlu met with Sarajevo Ambassador Haldun Koç, Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential Council Milorad Dodik, Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential Council Member Sefik Dzaferovic and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic and exchanged views as well as attending the , Vice President Fuat Oktay and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministers Council President Denis Zvizdić, providing assessments regarding bilateral economic relations between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As a part of the Business Forum, TOBB Board Member Cengiz Günay received the “Sarajevo Business Forum 10th Anniversary Special Award.”

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