Local businessmen visit Yerevan to develop new trade relations

Local businessmen visit Yerevan to develop new trade relations

Vercihan Ziflioğlu ISTANBUL

A delegation of Turkish businessmen will convene in Armenia today for a series of closed-door discussions regarding trade relations. The conference will last until Nov. 25.

Although business between Armenia and Turkey has always existed, business ethics have become the only aspect regulating the relationship in the absence of more concrete trade laws between two countries, businessman Arthur Ghazaryan recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Ghazaryan, president of Armenia’s Manufacturers and Businessmen Union (UMBEA), said both countries would “doubtlessly” benefit from the opening of borders as that would significantly increase trade between Armenia and Turkey. This would subsequently contribute to the economic growth of eastern Turkey, Ghazaryan added.

Although the borders between the countries may be closed physically, they have remained open psychologically, Ghazaryan said, adding that the Turkish government was now looking for an economic response to the problems in eastern Turkey rather than a military one.

The conference is being organized with the support of UMBEA, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, the Yerevan Press Club, the International Council for Human Development and the Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC).

The Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce has sent official letters to all neighboring countries, including Armenia, to expand trade volume with these economies, according to Galip Esnarioğlu. A former deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the current chairman of Diyarbakır’s Trade and Industry Chamber, Ensarioğlu will also participate in the conference.

Ensarioğlu said trade relations had developed at a “sluggish” rate for political reasons.

Countries typically conduct about 60 percent of their trade with their neighbors but this figure was “unfortunately” only 30 percent for Turkey, he said, adding that such trade relations were a reflection of bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, Gaffur Türkay, a Diyarbakır-based businessman active in the transportation and insurance sectors, said he would seek business opportunities while in Yerevan. Businessmen willing to trade with Armenia face many difficulties due to closed borders, and many Turkish firms active in Armenia operate with hidden identities, he added.

According to Turkish statistics, the trade volume between Turkey and Armenia is currently zero, although Armenian sources put the volume in excess of $200 million