Ugandans are showing a growing interest in trade with Turkey, with many taking the measure of traveling to the country to buy merchandise or sell their own domestic products, according to the Turkish ambassador to Uganda. "The number of visa applications doubled in 2019 compared to 2018, and in the first two months of this year, visa applications have tripled (compared with the same period last year)," Kerem Alp said.
Alp said Ugandan traders were interested in buying Turkish products because of their good quality, while others visited Turkey to seek markets for their products because Turkey is a large market. "We are going to expedite the visa process to make it easy for Ugandans wishing to visit Turkey," he told Anadolu Agency (AA) Monday.
The diplomat also said there was a growing number of Turkish nationals visiting Uganda, looking to open new businesses or set up franchises in the East African country. "Uganda now has an honorary consul in Istanbul and another in Antalya," Alp said during an interview held at his office in the capital Kampala.
He said a delegation from the Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be visiting Uganda in March to explore opportunities. "They want to establish industrial free zones and bring the knowhow to Uganda."
Alp also said some of the Turkish businesses that have already set up shop in Uganda are creating employment for locals. He noted that some of the companies will add value to the Ugandan economy by processing local products such as coffee, textiles, fruits and other goods before exporting them to overseas markets. "Turkey will be opening markets for Ugandan products processed here locally and exported," he said.
Some of the goods that Turkey exports to Uganda include furniture, lubricants, textiles and energy products. On the other hand, Uganda mainly sells agricultural products, including fruits, tea and coffee, abroad.
Turkish trade center to open in Uganda
Alp also said Turkey is planning to build a Turkish trade center in Kampala together with several Ugandan and Turkish business organizations – an idea supported by both the Turkish and Ugandan parliaments.
He said the center, which they hope will be functional sometime next year, will be a permanent fixture exhibiting Turkish products, including machinery. Those interested in the products can purchase them online.
He said the two countries are also working on further boosting trade and investment ties, leading to an increase in their trade volume, which currently stands at $40 million. The diplomat said there is also another category of Ugandans who visit Turkey, which includes tourists, students and those seeking employment opportunities.
"There is a potential labor market for Ugandans in Turkey. But because we don't want this to be turned into an illegal immigration or working practice, we are currently working on labor agreements that will ensure that the labor market in Turkey can be accessible to qualified Ugandans as much as our cooperation in tourism and trade."
The two friendly countries enjoy good relations and recently celebrated 50 years of diplomatic ties.
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