Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Hisarcıklıoğlu attended the Turkish-Arab Economic Forum

08.11.2023 / İstanbul

The 14th Turkish-Arab Economic Forum (TAF) was held in İstanbul with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, the Presidential Investment Office and in cooperation with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye (TOBB).​

Speaking at the opening of the forum organized under the theme ‘New Era in Cooperation’, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the world is going through a difficult period, the growth in the global economy and trade volume has slowed down and geopolitical risks and conflicts have increased.

Pointing to the need for strong international cooperation and solidarity, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Together, we must strengthen the private sector in our countries. Because in our age, the real power of countries comes from their private sectors. The strength and dynamism of the Turkish economy is also based on the private sector.”

Pointing out that Türkiye is an entrepreneurial country, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We are the main supplier of Europe in many sectors, especially automotive, white goods and apparel. We are the country from which the EU imports the most automobiles. We achieved all this by liberalizing trade and increasing competition, because trade enriches, protectionism impoverishes. More free trade is essential for the stability and prosperity of developing countries in particular. Therefore, we need to demand free trade together.”

Stating that the world has entered a different era, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “With the emergence of new technologies, the carbon-based growth period of the past century is coming to an end. Countries whose economies are based on natural resources, do not have competitive markets, and do not know how to trade will be the losers of this century if they stay with their current business models.”

Pointing out that the era of easy growth based on low interest rates and high credit flow is over, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Countries, and especially developing ones like us, need to focus on a new and different growth process based on productivity increases and innovation. Countries that are integrated into the world and have improved their business environment will be the winners of this new century.”

- “European states prospered by increasing their trade with each other”

Stating that Türkiye has a very large industrial production power, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that 60 percent of Türkiye’s exports are made to developed, rich markets and countries.

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The way to make our countries and nations more prosperous is to come together and stand together. The way to do this is to increase trade and especially trade with each other. European states, which were hostile to each other for centuries, have prospered by increasing their trade with each other. EU countries do 70 percent of their foreign trade with each other.”

Emphasizing that the capital accumulation of Arab countries and the production experience of the Turkish private sector should be brought together in the fields of industry, tourism and agriculture, Hisarcıklıoğlu concluded his words as follows:

“We also want to work closely with our Arab friends to develop entrepreneurship and strengthen SMEs in our geography. As TOBB, we are ready to share experience and knowledge on these issues. Together we can also realize the reconstruction of Arab countries in need of investment. As Türkiye and Arab countries, we can overcome global problems and challenges through more cooperation, trade and joint investments. We must work together and rise together. As the Turkish business world, our wish is to further deepen and multidimensionalize our relations with our Arab brothers and sisters.”

- Minister Şimşek

Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek emphasized that the world is going through a very challenging period and said, “When we look at the global economy, we see that there is moderate growth. According to the IMF’s forecast for next year, the global growth rate will be only 2.9 percent. If we exclude India and China, we see that the global growth rate will drop to 1.6 percent. Below this rate almost means recession. When we look at the 5-year growth in the coming period, it is thought to be around 3 or 3.1 percent. Integration in regional trade is very important. Trade is one of the basic mottoes of growth. There is a serious competition here. We can strengthen regional trade by working more closely. At the same time, we can overcome the obstacle of slow growth together.”

Şimşek said that Egypt and Türkiye are facing tough financial conditions and that the only way forward for Egypt and Türkiye is to reform and improve their credibility within their own countries.

Explaining that there is a serious uncertainty about energy prices, Şimşek said, “There is little investment in energy. As a result, it seems that energy prices will remain high. Therefore, we need to cooperate better.”

- Presidency Investment Office Head Burak Dağlıoğlu

Burak Dağlıoğlu, Head of the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye, said that Türkiye has been on the right path in terms of cooperation with Arab countries under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2003.

Reminding that Türkiye is among the world’s 20 largest economies, Dağlıoğlu said, “Türkiye aims for sustainable and digital growth. Türkiye has been a regional center so far, but we want to continue as a global economic power from now on. We expect investors, especially from Arab countries, to invest in Türkiye to contribute to this growth.”

Pointing out the importance of Türkiye’s geographical location in the middle of Africa, Europe and Asia, Dağlıoğlu said, “Türkiye has a business-friendly investment environment. Türkiye has a robust and fast growing economy. Since 2003, our rapid growth has continued. Türkiye has a very competitive talent pool.”

- “Türkiye’s exports to Arab countries are increasing every year”

Dr. Khaled Hanafy, Secretary General of the Union of Arab Chambers, stated that there is an ongoing, developing and continuous economic relationship between Türkiye and the Arab countries and this is evident from the figures.

Pointing out that Türkiye is a major economic partner in the Arab region, Hanafy said, “Türkiye’s exports to Arab countries are increasing every year. There is an increase of around 10 percent. Arab countries are also constantly increasing their investments in Türkiye and making direct investments. There are also non-direct investments. These investments are especially in the real estate sector. An average of 10 million Arab tourists travel to Türkiye every year.”

“Our markets should not be target markets, there should be an atmosphere of cooperation, maybe special zones should be opened, big opportunities should be seized. Right now, we have such a bad situation internationally that we need to turn it into an opportunity. The supply chain is much weaker now than it used to be. We are geographically closer to fulfill this need.”

- “We want to create a more robust network”

Walid Abou Zaki, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group, said Arab countries want to deepen reforms and further diversify investments in their countries.

Stating that Arab countries are trying to become more prominent in the world economy, Zaki said, “The organization of this forum shows how exceptional Turkish-Arab cooperation has become. Turkish companies are making their presence more visible in most regions and points of the Arab market.”

“We want to create a more robust network between Türkiye and Arab countries. With this network, Turkish and Arab companies can better match with each other or eliminate the risks they face,” Zaki said, adding that more partnerships between the countries should be realized.

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