As many economies of the world struggle to keep pace with major trading currencies on the international market, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called on African countries to trade using their local and national currencies.
This step, which he said has become critical, will “save countries from the pressure of foreign currencies and exchange rates” amid the quest for economic independence.
But this decision, which has become a major consideration for Turkey according to President Erdogan, follows some speculative economic attacks experienced by the ‘emerging market economy’ in the last couple of weeks.
Already, some level of discussions on the matter is said to have been held between other countries including Russia, China and Iran, and it is hoped will end on a successful note as the processes continue.
The President of Turkey, speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Turkey Africa Business and Economic Forum in Istanbul said: “We stand ready to develop trade in local currencies – not only with our main trade partners but with all countries including our African friends”.
He said Turkey prioritises its cooperation with Africa, adding: “We want to improve our relations, built on mutual respect, in all areas on the basis of win-win and equal partnership”.
From 2005 to date, Turkey has established an additional 29 embassies from an initial 12 in Africa, bringing the total to 41 embassies with further plans to establish one in every country on the continent.
“The friendly hand our country extended has never been left unreciprocated by African countries. As we have strengthened our diplomatic presence across the continent, African countries have also increased the number of their diplomatic missions in Turkey from 10 to 33,” he stated.
The Turkey Africa Business and Economic Forum, the second one to be held after the 2016 Forum, is in line with Turkey’s Africa-opening policy to improve Turkey’s commercial and investment relations with African countries.
The event was organised by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEiK) in coordination with Turkey’s Trade Ministry and the African Union (AU) as part of a 100-day action plan the Turkish government recently introduced to support the economy.
The two-day forum will feature a ministerial meeting themed ‘Fair, Free and Sustainable Trade’, as well as panel discussions on cooperation in construction, infrastructure and energy, and trade and investment in Africa.
The Commissioner for Economic Affairs of the African Union Commission – Victor Harison – said that since the first forum held in 2016, Turkey and Africa’s economic and trade sectors have showed a great improvement.
“In the framework of the African initiative of win-win policy implemented by the Turkey since 2003, the trade volume with Africa increased 4 times between the years 2003-2018 and reached US$20.6billion.”
This figure has been growing with continuous investments and public-private partnerships. Africa will grow by 4.1 percent this year, exceeding the global average; and its population will reach 2.5 billion in 2050, he stated.
“Africa, which is the only body including 54 countries, will be a global player with its demographic structure and renewable energy resources. The next process will be continuing its cooperation with Turkey, having signed the new strategic partnership with Africa.”
The Ethiopian President, Dr. Mulatu Teshome who also led a delegation from Ethiopia to the event, expressed the hope that Turkey and Africa will build a sustainable future together.
The Rwandan Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirent – speaking on behalf of President of Rwanda and the African Union (AU) Paul Kagame, said the US$20.6billion trade volume achieved by Turkey on the continent was realised through cooperation between the public and private sectors.
“We appreciate the approach of Turkey’s proposal for a solution to Africa’s problems. We want to improve on the industry issue by developing stronger relations with Turkey for sustainable development goals.”
He also observed that Africa’s free trade area has a very large potential for Turkey. “Together with the win-win strategy in trade, investment and especially in the fields of mining, tourism, education, agriculture, construction, infrastructure and energy, we will sign stronger partnerships.”
Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said: “Turkey aims to push Turkish-African relations to the next level despite global protectionist winds. Our goal is to put Turkey-Africa relations at the top from every respect”.
He noted that 8 credit and finance institutions participated in the event: including Turk Eximbank, Afreximbank African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the World Bank.
Among other things, he said: “The total contracting services on the African continent is US$66.4billion, but we have realised US$55billion due to African expansion for the last 15 years.”
“Today, the amount of Turkish investments in Africa has reached US$6.2billion. Eximbank provides financing to projects for Africa’s development,” he added.
In all, over 40 African countries – with about 3,000 businesses from Turkey and Africa – participated in the event.
Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen, accompanied by the Ambassador to Turkey, Salma Frances Mancell Egala, and Dr. John Asiedu – an official of Ghana’s Embassy in Turkey, led the Ghanaian delegation to the Forum.