Africa to see joint Turkey, Egypt bid with Cairo visit

Africa to see joint Turkey, Egypt bid with Cairo visit

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Africa to see joint Turkey, Egypt bid with Cairo visit

Egypt is turning to Turkey as a source of trade, says its ambassador. AFP photo

The relations between two regional heavyweights will gain further momentum this weekend as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stages a two-day trip to Egypt to boost trade and economic ties, as well as discuss the ongoing Syrian crisis.

The meetings between Erdoğan and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are likely to produce over a dozen agreements and a joint vision for expanded cooperation in the region, especially Africa. Some 200 business leaders will accompany Erdoğan and have a chance to meet their counterparts and government agencies.

“Bilaterally, Egypt is turning to Turkey as a source of investment and trade,” Egyptian Ambassador to Turkey Abderahman Salaheldin said Nov. 13, recalling the success of RoRo ships between Turkey and Egypt, a transportation alternative formed to bypass Syria. “We are looking at how to develop this to include third-party countries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea,” he said.

“It offers new routes reaching from Central Africa to the Caucasus. RoRo lines and truck numbers nearly doubled in recent months,” the envoy said, adding that the two countries were planning to establish a Turkey-Egypt Joint Truck Company.

“Our trade volume was around 3.2 billion dollars last year, but in just the first half of this year, it reached 3 billion.

We expect a doubling of our trade volume by the end of this year,” he said. “This relationship is not only important to us, but also to Turkey as well. Every day we are finding out how close our values and
interests are. These are not only in the bilateral sense, but also have a regional dimension,” Salaheldin said.

Adopting Turkish model

The replacement of Hosni Mubarak’s reign with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has refreshed bilateral relations between what Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called the “regional axis.” The two countries are working closely on a number of issues, with the Syrian crisis at the top of the list.

The relationship is important for both countries, but Egypt can particularly gain from Turkish experience in establishing its economy as a growing and competitive one. “Egypt has a lot to benefit from Turkish experience in adopting European standards. The huge economic development, growth and competitiveness of the Turkish economy became possible through the adoption of these standards. We can follow the same process,” the ambassador said. Democratic norms, in addition to economic reforms, are also on Egypt’s agenda, Salaheldin said. “We have made progress in this field but we still have a long way to go.”

“[Turkey’s Justice and Development Party’s] AKP has experience in adopting a social agenda that is a good model for all countries in the region. Its handling of health, education and social issues have been very successful.”