Chinese voyage

Chinese voyage

China, which has released a $10 trillion import target in 10 years, is watching Turkey closely. Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) Asia Pacific Business Council President Murat Kolbaşı has said China has also created an opportunity for Turkey.

“The fair in November will be an important step. The import fair that will be held in Shanghai will be very important. As the exporters’ association, we have rented a very large space. We will take the floor here together with small and large firms,” Kolbaşı said.

Nowadays, China is on the agenda of many western countries. As is known, there is a serious commerce war going on between China, which has the second largest economy of the world, and the United States. Negotiations are ongoing regarding the precautions the U.S. has taken to close its trade gap with China. This conflict is scaring some countries, such as Germany.

Although there is moderation in the negotiations, there is still no complete agreement between the two sides. How will these developments affect countries such as Turkey? What is awaiting Turkey as China has said it is targeting an import level of $10 trillion for the next 10 years?

I wanted to ask these questions to Kolbaşı because they have been brought up frequently in the conversations I have held with the representatives of the business world.

I had a chance to meet him at the opening ceremony of the Consulate General of China in the western Turkish province of İzmir. Kolbaşı said the negotiation discussions between the U.S. and China matter for the whole world and summarized how they reflect on Turkey. “Even if China comes to an agreement with the U.S., it will look into other alternatives in some sectors. Turkey would be one of those countries. Opportunities would arise, especially in the food sector. But, Turkish firms should mobilize themselves in a more organized way for this market,” he said.

And a very important opportunity lies in the upcoming months for this, according to Kolbaşı, as an import fair will take place in Shanghai in November. “Small or big, it does not matter, companies should join this fair. Turkey will be successful in this market as it has the opportunity to produce [for this market],” he said.

Although there is some stillness due to the elections and volatility in the economy, Chinese funds have been opening offices in Turkey and are continuing to undertake in investment research, Kolbaşı said. 

The BRN Sleep Products company, based in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, is about to start exporting to China. Its chairwoman Berna İlter has said the Chinese market should be taken very seriously. “The Chinese are after a brand in Europe. We have to focus on the Turkish brand image,” she said.

The number of Chinese firms investing in Turkey has reached 1,000. It seems the number of tourists coming from China will reach 600,000. In Istanbul, the Turkish unit of the multinational banking company Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, or ICBC, has been opened. After the Bank of China, a third Chinese bank is expected to open its doors in Turkey.

But, the visa problem unfortunately still persists. Kolbaşı has said there were still improvements regarding the visa issue, and have been trying to ensure visa-free travel for the members of the Turkish Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (MÜSİAD), after already having secured it for members of DEİK and the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD).

The trade volume between China and Turkey is $23 billion. Exports from Turkey, on the other hand, are only $3 billion. These figures do not go well with Turkey’s potential. Relations with China probably need to be replaced by a robust foundation!

Meanwhile, businesspeople have conveyed an important warning to me regarding the Chinese market. China has allowed cherries from Turkey to be imported for the first time. However, an important danger has arisen regarding this issue—the Mediterranean fruit fly. China has demanded that cherries wait in a cold air container for 16 days. However, an exporter has said it is not possible for Turkish cherries to wait so long.

“The problem of quality may emerge. If an image of Turkish cherries being bad arises, the export of new products in the upcoming periods will become difficult. We have to be very careful,” they said. If we take what we have gone through with Russia into account, the importance of this warning is seen.

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