Southeastern businesspeople have recently taken the plunge to regain Iraq, Turkey's largest export market. Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DTSO) President Mehmet Kaya said they will go to Irbil on April 21 with a delegation of 50 businesspeople. "Trade with the neighbor is the easiest. Our goal is to bring our trade volume back to the good old days," Kaya said, stressing that Iraq is an indispensable market for Turkey.
"The uncertainty disappeared in northern Iraq. The government was established. They get a share of the central government. Oil prices are on the rise. A perfect environment has been restored for trading. Let us not miss this opportunity," he added. Informing that during their four-day visit, they will meet with ministers, business organizations and Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Kaya emphasized the administration's positive attitude toward Turkish businesspeople.
Kaya recalled that the region's export to Iraq decreased from around $500 million to $190 million. "This is a great loss for us because Diyarbakır constituted 65 percent of this amount. There is no reason why we should not reach those figures once again," Kaya continued and noted that they aim to open a regional trade center in Irbil followed by another center in Sulaymaniyah in the second stage. "These centers will contribute greatly to exports," he added.
Pointing out that Iran has filled the gap created by Turkey in the region, Kaya said the tension between the two countries has increased Turkey's chances.
He further informed that the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) will organize an event covering all of the regional chambers following their visit on April 21. "President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu has initiated a project on this issue. We do not have time to lose. Because the direction of northern Iraq is facing our country. We also talked to Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, who pledged all kinds of support in this scope," he said.
Touching on the importance of Anadolu Jet's Diyarbakır-Irbil flights that started on March 21, Kaya underlined that this step is very important, especially in terms of health tourism. "There are branches of all hospital chains in our region. We offer very attractive opportunities for Iraqi citizens. We will make campaigns in the region to attract the patients," he said.
Noting that road transport from Duhok and Zaho to Diyarbakır takes around 10 to 12 hours, Kaya stressed this duration is reduced to only one hour by plane, adding they expect a serious influx of tourists from Irbil and Sulaymaniyah.