Bosses’ mobility spurs Turkish economy: Foreign Minister Davutoğlu
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) chats with Union of Turkey’s Chambers and Bourses (TOBB) Chaiman Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu in a DEİK meeting. AA photoThe Turkish Foreign Minister has praised businesspeople, particularly in the construction sector, for expanding abroad as the main power source behind the economic success of resource-poor Turkey.
“We haven’t discovered new giant resources or found gas or oil wells in the last 10 years. But our human force, most importantly our businessmen, are the main power source of our economic growth spurt,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, speaking at a “Foreign Economic Relations and Diplomacy” meeting organized by the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) on March 9.
If Turkey wants to reach its target of being among the top 10 largest economies in the world by 2023, the mobilization of people is the only means of achieving this, Davutoğlu said, adding that although Turkey’s natural resources wealth was considerable, it was not enough to make it a top 10 world economy.
“So, how we can narrow our geographical gap? We should expand our geographical perspective in order to keep up with continental-scale producer countries,” he said.
Observing how the growth of Turkish Airlines (THY) had occurred in parallel with Turkey’s diplomatic expansion, Davutoğlu said Turkey also had to expand its “economic geography” while respecting existing borders.
This is being supported with transport and energy policies, as the Foreign Ministry has accelerated efforts to have visa requirements for Turks lifted in as many countries as possible in a bid to overcome this gap, Davutoğlu said. Turkish businessmen should be able to move freely in neighboring countries in order to promote growth, he said.
In the past few years, Turkey has lifted visa restrictions for 64 countries, including Russia, signing a total of 21 such agreements. Davutoğlu raised the bar even higher by saying that the ultimate aim was to lift visa requirements for all countries.
While declaring its foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors,” Turkey knew that a zero-problem approach cannot be achieved completely, however the real objective is to move away from focusing on negative images of its neighbors toward a closer integration with countries in the region, the foreign minister said.
Touching upon the transatlantic free trade agreement that looks set to be signed between the United States and the EU, Davutoğlu said he had expressed Turkey’s concerns over the issue during the transatlantic dinner held in Italy, attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who assured Turkey that it would be included in the deal as it is one of the key participants in the negotiations. During Kerry’s visit to Turkey, both sides had the opportunity to discuss the issue more deeply.
“If the EU were to agree on free trade with the U.S., as it has done before with Mexico and South Korea, our loss would be great. Therefore, we’re going to put the economic mechanisms that we formed when Obama came to power four years ago into action,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a different meeting organized by the Turkish Business Women’s Association (TİKAD) on the same day, Davutoğlu highlighted the value of businesswomen further, describing them as “double-heroes” because of their double tasks and responsibilities.
“Businessmen work, but when they come home they think they have a right to rest. However, businesswomen have to do other chores at home as mothers and wives,” he said.