By Ayhan Simsek
A visit by Germany’s economy minister to Ankara this week is a “window of opportunity” to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD) said Thursday.
“As political tensions ease, we should grasp this opportunity. Both Turkish and German firms would benefit from joint projects in various areas,” TUSIAD’s Berlin representative Alper Ucok told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier is beginning his two-day visit to Ankara Thursday with the hope of boosting economic and trade ties between the two countries.
Altmaier will be accompanied by a group of businesspeople, including chief executives from German business giants Siemens, SAP, and EON, as well as representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Ucok, who represents Turkey’s largest business association, said the visit would be an opportunity for German firms to obtain first-hand information on recent economic developments in the country and discuss new business opportunities.
“Investments in railway infrastructure, energy efficiency projects, renewable energies, Industry 4.0, chemical and healthcare technologies are the main areas with ideal opportunities for joint projects,” he said.
Ahead of his landmark visit, Altmaier underlined his government’s support for Turkey’s economic stability at a time of market volatility and expressed hope for closer cooperation between the two countries.
Ucok underlined that the German government can use various financial mechanisms to encourage German companies to invest in Turkey.
“The German government can make loans available through the development bank KfW. It can also support businesses with export credit guarantees known as Hermes. These would make a big contribution to boosting economic and trade ties between Germany and Turkey,” he said.
Ucok added that Turkey’s private sector was expecting Germany to support the modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union.
“If Germany would take steps within Europe for the start of talks with Ankara over updating the existing EU-Turkey Customs Union, that would be the biggest contribution for reviving the economy. It would motivate Turkey’s private sector and also the German companies for new investments and joint projects,“ he stressed.
EU heavyweight Germany remains Turkey’s main economic and trade partner. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached €37.6 billion ($43.6 billion). Around 7,500 German companies are currently active in Turkey.
During Altmaier’s visit Thursday, the first meeting of the recently formed Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO) will be held in Ankara.
The Turkish-German Energy Forum, which will provide a dialogue platform for companies, policymakers, and research organizations, is scheduled for Friday.
Relations between Ankara and Berlin suffered several setbacks in past years due to political disagreements, but both sides have taken steps in recent months towards improving ties.