Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are expected to forge new agreements on new steps to enlarge their trade as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is due to pay a return visit to Abu Dhabi, reflecting the further warming of bilateral ties.
Having moved to put years of tense relations behind them, Turkey and the UAE have opened the doors to a new phase in bilateral relations marked by deeper economic cooperation after a yearslong rift.
A trip by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) to Ankara in late November marked a significant move toward overcoming disputes, while Erdoğan’s return visit on Monday and Tuesday is said to symbolize a turning point in the ties.
The trip is said to add to nearly a dozen cooperation deals signed during the crown prince’s visit, which was his first official trip to Turkey since 2012 and the highest-level visit by an Emirati official since relations between the two countries hit a low.
The agreements were made on technology, energy, trade and environment, and also included deals allowing direct investments and cooperation between the two countries’ stock exchanges and central banks.
The UAE also earmarked a $10 billion fund to support mainly strategic investments in Turkey. The fund will focus on strategic investments, including in the energy and health sectors. Erdoğan said the accords would herald a “new era” in ties.
Erdoğan will hold talks in Abu Dhabi on Monday before passing to Dubai on Tuesday, where he is expected to attend Turkey’s National Day ceremony to be held within the scope of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Accompanied by a large delegation, he is also expected to come together with business people in Dubai.
He will be accompanied by the UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.
Turkey is attending the expo, the first world fair held in the Middle East, with a pavilion that has been set up with the theme “Creating the Future from the Zero Point of Civilizations.”
Held under the banner “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future,” the Expo 2020 Dubai was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It opened its doors to exhibitors from almost 200 countries on Oct. 1 last year and will conclude at the end of March.
Equipped with the latest technologies, the Turkey Pavilion offers visitors a chance to embark on a journey that sheds light on the beauty, export products, technology, nature, unique history and cultural richness of the country.
Turkey and the UAE remain crucial regional trading partners.
Their bilateral trade volume had reached nearly $15 billion in 2017, the highest level ever, before declining as relations strained.
The turnover dropped to as much as $6.9 billion a year later, before rebounding to nearly $7.9 billion in 2019, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data. The volume rose further to $8.3 billion in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, before dropping slightly to $7.6 billion last year.
Turkey and UAE changed roles when it comes to registering a surplus in their exchange. Turkey’s exports to the country had hit an all-time high of nearly $9.2 billion in 2017, compared to imports worth $5.5 billion.
However, Turkey registered a trade deficit in the following years, before it reversed the trend again last year.
Its exports had totaled $3.14 billion, $3.52 billion and $2.72 billion in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, versus imports of $3.78 billion, $4.34 billion and $5.57 billion, according to the data.
Turkey exported around $5.2 billion worth of goods to the UAE last year and bought nearly $2.4 billion worth of products from the country.
There is around $1.8 billion of potential that has still not been weighed on in Turkey’s exports to the country, said Tevfik Öz, the head of the Foreign Economic Relations (DEIK) Turkey-UAE Business Council, citing International Trade Center (ITC) calculations.
The recent warming of ties rapidly reflected on trade and economic relations, Öz told Anadolu Agency (AA). He stressed that a long period of stagnation has been replaced by a new era in which commercial activities, investment and trade are gaining momentum again.
Dubai Expo Turkey commissioner Mükerrem Aksoy highlighted the extensive meetings with BAE companies and high interest by businesspeople in the Turkey Pavilion since it was set up in October.
“Turkey’s participation in Dubai Expo is very important for our relations with the UAE and our mutual trade volume,” Aksoy told AA, stressing beliefs that the trade turnover between the two countries will rapidly rise to $10 billion.