Kosovo wants to deepen Turkish trade relations

Kosovo wants to deepen Turkish trade relations

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Kosovo wants to deepen Turkish trade relations

Kosovar Economic Development Minister Besim Begaj speaks at a conference.

Turkish firms in Kosovo have played a significant role in the country’s reconstruction, but more investments and deeper economic relations are needed, Kosovar Economic Development Minister Besim Begaj has said.

“The biggest foreign investor in Kosovo is Germany. Austria and Switzerland are very active, but we want Turkey to be on the top of the list. We think that if Turkey treats Kosovo as a place for outsourcing activities, it will be great for both sides,” Begaj told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview in Istanbul.

Begaj paid a visit to the Turkish capital of Ankara as well as Istanbul and Bursa last week to hold various meetings with Turkish officials.

Kosovo and Turkey are negotiating an “asymmetric trade agreement” to improve their economic partnership, opening the Turkish market to products from Kosovo such as brands from the country’s growing wine industry, Begaj said.

Turkey was one of the first countries to officially recognize Kosovo as an independent country in 2008; the state later became a member of the World Bank and the IMF in 2009. Today, it is recognized by over 90 countries but is not a member of the UN.

While its economy is growing, the country of 1.7 million people is struggling to catch up with the rest of the former Yugoslavia and neighboring Albania in terms of development and integration with the European Union.

Helping infrastructure

Begaj said Turkish firms have been assisting in the building of infrastructure in Kosovo, including a 117-kilometer-long highway linking the country to Albania and the country’s only international airport, both built by Turkish firms.

“We have a consortium, Bechtel-Enka – Bechtel from the United States and Enka from Turkey – who are constructing a highway from Kosovo to Albania,” he said.

A French-Turkish consortium, Limak & Airports de Lyon, has obtained a tender for Pristina International Airport. Another important investment was made by the Limak Çalık consortium to manage the energy distribution of Kosovo for the next 15 years.

“Turkish companies must come and produce in Kosovo. We think that relations are going well, but we are encouraging Turkish companies to establish production facilities in Kosovo,” he said, adding that the textile sector in particular had a bright future in the country.