Turkish companies investing in Serbia have access to the European Union and Russian markets, Turkey's Ambassador to Belgrade Tanju Bilgiç has said.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Bilgiç said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's two-day visit to Serbia last year and the agreements signed at that time have had a positive impact on bilateral trade and relations.
A review of a bilateral free trade agreement was signed alongside 12 other agreements in the presence of Erdoğan and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic last October.
The Turkish ambassador said it was "extremely important" for Turkish companies to invest in Serbia in order to achieve the trade volume target of $2 billion.
"A target of $2 billion in trade volume is not a dream; it is quite a realistic goal. Last year we achieved a trade volume of about $1.1 billion. With the implementation of the free trade agreement, this figure will increase," said Bilgiç.
Pointing out Serbia's free trade agreement with Russia, Bilgiç said Turkish companies investing in the country could easily access both the EU and Russian markets.
"The customs union agreement between Serbia and the EU provides important opportunities for Turkish investors because the EU is one of the major markets for Turkish exports," he said.
Meanwhile, Halkbank Serbia Director Kenan Bozkurt said that Serbia is a "gateway to both the East and the West."
"Our goal is to be a bridge between Serbia and Turkey, both in the region and to facilitate access to the EU market. Serbia is a gateway to both the East and the West. We are aiming to reach Europe and Asia with our branches in Turkey and Serbia," he added.
Halkbank is one of Turkey's biggest banks and a state-run lender. It bought a 76.76 percent stake in Serbia's local lender, Cacanska Banka, on May 20, 2015. The bank opened its first branch in Serbia in October 2015.
Bozkurt noted that Halkbank also wants to take part in Serbia's agricultural sector.
"Halkbank has participated in the agrarian forum twice, and we want to take part in such projects more often because we work with the people," said Bozkurt.
The bank employs more than 400 people and currently has 32 branches and offices throughout Serbia. It is planning to open several new branches by the end of 2018.
Halkbank is Turkey's second-largest state lender after Ziraat Bank with 900 branches and 19,000 employees.
Nearly half of Halkbank's shares are traded on Turkey's main stock exchange, the Borsa Istanbul.
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