Regional cooperation in the Middle East ‘key for prosperity’

Regional cooperation in the Middle East ‘key for prosperity’

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Regional cooperation in the Middle East ‘key for prosperity’

8th Turkish-Arab Economic Forum (TAF) has been held in Istanbul. AA photo

Inter-regional trade between Middle Eastern countries is the lowest in the world; no other region trades less with each other than this region, Turkey’s deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said at the opening ceremony of the 8th Turkish-Arab Economic Forum (TAF) yesterday in Istanbul.

“Our region has the potential for the highest cooperation. When we look at the cultural origins, religion, languages and sectorial aspects, we have so much in common. With the right policies we can achieve our goals,” Babacan said.

Babacan said Turkey and Arab countries needed “free movement of goods, people, capital, energy and ideas.” Babacan added that ideas had already met and the economy had to follow that now.

President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu also underlined the importance of geographic cooperation, saying, “Geographic cooperation is important to benefit from the new energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.” 

“The world developed politically and economically very fast in the last three years. Our region feels the changes which came with the Arab uprising strongly. This process gives us a historical opportunity to make our region stable and prosperous,” Hisarcıklıoglu added.

Tourism boost

“We gained momentum in trade relations since 2002. The exports to Arab countries increased 11-fold in the last decade and the imports from Arab countries 12-fold. The level of bilateral trade approached $50 billion in 2012. The number of Arab tourist who visited Turkey was 700.000 a decade ago and has now reached 2.5 million,’ he said.