Turkish contractors and consultancy firms can be a part of projects involving infrastructure, hospitals, schools and public buildings in Iraq. This cooperation can be further facilitated by a reversal in discrimination regarding the conditions of fair competition as well as the easing of processes required to do business, a Turkish trade official said Friday.
Nail Olpak, head of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) was at the Turkey-Iraq Business, Investment and Contracting Forum, hosted by Turkey’s Ministry of Commerce and organized by DEIK, in cooperation with the Turkish Contractors Association (TMB) and the Iraqi Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICC).
Speaking at the opening of the forum that saw the participation of Turkey’s Trade Minister Mehmet Muş, Olpak said that the main purpose of the organization is to “add a new angle to investment and commercial cooperation” between the countries.
The two countries’ trade volume is currently around $17 billion, Olpak stated and said that Turkey's share in Iraq's imports increased from 20% to 27%.
Noting that the gold jewelry, plastic and furniture sectors have come to the fore in exports to Iraq recently, Olpak said, “We need to focus on other sectors, especially the manufacturing industry.”
Olpak, who commented on the areas he views will pave the way for the development of existing economic cooperation and is necessary to increase mutual investment and trade, said, “shortening and facilitating visa processes as well as facilitating the work visa processes of the employees of our companies doing business in our countries would be an important step.”
The extension of the railway connection between Turkey and Iraq to the south is another important factor, he said.
Suggesting that Turkish companies can share their know-how in practice in Iraq, which has large-scale goals of establishing factories and facilities within domestic Iraqi industry, Olpak said that Turkey is aware of how important information and networks are, especially in today's world and that DEIK is ready “to use our entire network together with our colleagues.”
Abdulrezzaq al-Zuhari, head of FICC stated that Turkey and Iraq should cooperate and focus on issues such as production and export.
“We call for cooperation to gain and benefit mutually,” he said, particularly in the oil, mining and agricultural sectors.
Al-Zuhari also noted that thanks to the cooperation to be realized between Turkey and Iraq, it is possible to export very quickly to Gulf countries by land and rail.
TMB Chairperson Erdal Eren, also speaking at the event, said that Turkish contractors have undertaken 1,034 projects in Iraq, with which they have been cooperating since 1975.
“Today, we are extremely eager to improve our current cooperation with our neighbor Iraq, which is in the process of reconstruction and economic development, and to contribute to the country's efforts in achieving this,” Eren said.
DEIK Turkey-Iraq Business Council Chairperson Emin Taha also said that since 2001, the council has been working to strengthen the commercial and economic relations between the two countries, to increase the trade volume and to provide new business opportunities to the Turkish private sector.
Cafer Resul al-Hamdany, DEIK Iraq-Turkey Business Council chairperson, meanwhile, stated that there is a lot of empty agricultural land in Iraq and that these lands can be cultivated jointly to produce food that can be exported if necessary.
Drawing attention to the energy production and its further potential in Iraq and explaining that there are still many unexploited mining sites, al-Hamdany invited the Turkish private sector to cooperate on benefiting from this potential.
“We have a historical partnership with Turkey. We want to improve this partnership,” the Iraqi official said.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Contractors Union head Serow Dizayi also spoke about the commercial relations between Turkey and the KRG and said: “We have important strategic projects in all our cities. We welcome large companies in Turkey to our region.”
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