Turkey eyes business with West Africa

Turkey eyes business with West Africa

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Turkey eyes business with West Africa

The Turkish economy minister suggested on Feb. 22 a free trade agreement would be a key step to boost business ties between Ankara and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

“Trade volume with the bloc has increased 10 fold in the last decade, from $200 million to over $2 billion,” Nihat Zeybekci said at the opening ceremony of a business and economic forum meeting between Turkey and ECOWAS in Istanbul. 

“Our aim is to bring it up to $5 billion in the short term and to $10 billion in the long term in a win-win approach. The only way to achieve this is a free trade agreement between Turkey and ECOWAS,” he said. 

Also speaking at the ceremony, Kalilou Traore, the bloc’s commissioner for industry and private sector, said cooperation with Turkey played an important role for the development of the region. 

Traore said ECOWAS countries offered lucrative business opportunities in infrastructure projects in various sectors such as railways, roads, hospitals, energy, maritime and agriculture. 

“We are aware of Turkey’s potential. We know that Turkish businesspeople have accomplished enormous projects in our region and the quality of the projects implemented by them is a clear indication of their major accomplishments,” said Traore. 

Germain Essohouna Meba, the head of the Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), also expressed willingness to increase trade between Turkey and West African countries. 

“Inter-trade among ECOWAS countries reached $12 billion in 2016. Our target is to enhance the solidarity of the public-private sector,” Meba said. 

“We also steer companies to target sectors such as energy, agriculture and transport through establishing collaborations,” he added. 

Nail Olpak, the head of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK), underlined that the forum was held under the motto “Think together, act together, win together.” 

“We will be together for two days in order to deepen the economic partnership between Turkey and the 16 member countries of ECOWAS,” he said. 

The Istanbul event, organized by DEİK in coordination with the Turkish Economy Ministry, will end on Feb. 23. 

The trade union consists of 15 countries—Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.