Turks using backdoor for trade with Algeria
Ziya Özışık ALGERIA / Radikal
Turkish businessmen are facing difficulties in entering Algeria’s $159 billion economy due to the absence of a free trade agreement.
As a result, they are forced to use the “backdoor” by forming local partnerships or bringing their products into Algeria “under the table” through neighboring countries like Egypt and Tunisia.
“There are cheap Chinese products in the Algerian market. Our products are better quality, but because of the 30 percent tax on our goods, we can’t charge the same low prices,” said Abdurrahman Beşer, a Turkish businessman who wants to bring his wheelbarrow business to Algeria.
“We have to try to transport our products through neighboring countries,” he told daily Radikal.
Turkey’s total 2011 trade volume with Algeria is $2.8 billion. Imports constitute $1.38 billion and exports make up $1.44 billion.
When compared to Turkey’s total $370 billion trade volume, this amounts to only 0.75 percent, according to Turkish Central Bank data.
Algeria has not signed a proposed free trade agreement with Turkey for years and according to undisclosed sources, France does not want Algeria to adopt the agreement. Algeria is an important market for France and it allegedly does not want Turkey as a competitor.
Turkey’s Hayat Kimya, which produces diapers, and Tosyalı Holding, which has a $500 million investment in an iron and steel factory in Algeria, are two Turkish success stories. The business ventures have prompted the Algerian government to adopt a “51 percent local partner” clause for foreigners doing business in Algeria.
Despite Turkey’s difficulties in trading with Algeria, last week’s Turkish products exhibition in Algeria, which introduced Algerians to Turkish products, received a lot of attention, according to the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO).
“Economic relations cannot be developed without cultural ties,” İTO Chairman Murat Yalçıntaş said.
One such example is a Turkish soap opera “Kurtlar Vadisi” (Valley of the Wolves), which is very popular in Algeria.