Turkish, Egyptian business chambers meet for first time after four years
Vahap Munyar - CAIRO
AA photoRepresentatives from top Turkish and Egyptian business chambers have come together in Cairo for the first time since a military coup in Egypt in 2013, calling for reviving bilateral economic and trade ties.
Bilateral relations between Turkey and Egypt strained after a military coup in 2013 unseated Egypt’s then-President Mohamed Morsi. The two countries’ diplomatic ties have been on charge d’affaires level since then.
A Turkish business delegation, led by the head of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), on Jan. 30 attended a one-day forum, which was organized by the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC), as a series of talks between the two sides are also underway. The invitation was sent from FEDCOC President Ahmed Al Wakeel to TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, who later discussed the issue with the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The ministry said bilateral business ties should continue, noting that Turkey’s charge d’affaires in Egypt, Ali Rıza Günay, would help the delegation in Cairo.
The representatives from the countries’ top business chambers discussed common problems and voiced their intentions to boost ties again.
“We have worked over 20 years to develop our business ties. Turkish businesspeople have invested billions of dollars in Egypt. Our economic relations flourished in 2007 after the establishment of the Turkish Industrial Zone in our country. Now it is time to go back to those good days,” Al Wakeel said in his speech at the meeting.
He stressed that Egypt served as a gate for Turkey to Africa, and Turkey as a gate for Egypt to Europe.
“Our country launched a new constitution. We also created an economic roadmap, setting to plan major projects. Come to Egypt and let’s boost our economic relations again,” Al Wakeel said.
Hisarcıklıoğlu noted that bilateral trade ties had once peaked to $5 billion and Turkish investments in Egypt surpassed $2 billion, although recent economic and business relations had regressed.
“Our trade volume with Egypt is now at around $4 billion. One of the main reasons behind this is protectionism. Egypt has started to put some protectionist policies into practice. Protectionist policies do not enrich countries, on the contrary, they make countries poorer. Any opportunity for business partnerships will serve as a seed to flourish peace,” he said.
Hisarcıklıoğlu added that it was normal for countries to have weakening diplomatic ties from time-to-time, but that such strains should not affect economic ties.
“Trade is the base for welfare and peace. Any deal by our businesspeople should be seen as a service to the region, which has unfortunately gone through serious conflicts,” he said.