Turkey's Asia-Pacific leap

Published 05.07.2019 22:32
Updated 06.07.2019 00:23

Since last Friday, the global agenda and developments in many issues of interest relating to Turkey are taking place in the Far East. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's meetings with world leaders in Japan's Osaka during the G20 leaders' summit, the Treasures and the Tulip Tradition in the Ottoman Empire and the Ara Güler exhibitions in Tokyo, followed by the meetings with the Japanese business community, Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo were all of critical importance for transforming Turkish-Japanese relations into richer trade and investment in the 21st century.

Our impression in Tokyo was that the Japanese business world was ready for many mutual investments and trade opportunities with the Turkish business world in Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf, the Balkans and Central Asian Turkish republics based out of Turkey.

Abe mentioned in his speech, when welcoming President Erdoğan, that they will put in effort to expand the strategic partnership between Turkey and Japan to a higher level was almost a summary of their meeting. On the occasion of Emperor Naruhito's accession ceremony in October, the possibility of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) between Turkey and Japan to drive trade and especially direct investments to more ambitious levels seems to have considerably increased.

In Beijing, there is great dynamism for the Beijing Expo. On Wednesday, the opening of the Turkish Pavilion and the Turkish Day march took place at the expo, led by Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan. Prior to Erdoğan's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his article published in one of the most important newspapers in China, Global Times, highlighted that the Middle Corridor, starting from Turkey, to Georgia and Azerbaijan by rail, from there crossing the Caspian Sea to reach Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and then China, is one of the most important components of the Belt and Road Initiative. This corridor, which can operate year-round, is also vitally important for China.

Erdoğan, who reiterated that global threats often result from the consequences of misunderstandings since we are living in a unipolar world, emphasized that we share the same vision with China on world peace, preservation of security and stability, encouraging multilateralism and sustaining free trade. He also pointed out to the Chinese business world that the investments they make will be beyond an investment in Turkey, the world's 16th largest economy with an 82 million-strong young and dynamic population, but also to a population of 1.6 billion and a purchasing power $24 trillion that is in Turkey's hinterland. We will continue to hear the echoes of Erdoğan's Asia-Pacific move in the next few years.

Calming agreements at G20

In terms of the issues I mentioned in previous articles, leader meetings at the G20 summit witnessed unexpected statements aiming to calm the global environment. Recently, the U.S.' statements, interventions and steps toward trade and exchange rate wars and tactics were anarchic in terms of the global economic-political system. U.S. President Donald Trump made statements that virtually eliminated the U.S.' climbing anarchic attitude and calmed the global markets.

First of all, for Erdoğan and Trump's meeting, the latter criticizing the Barack Obama administration for not meeting Turkey's air defense needs, and Erdoğan's statement that there would not be sanction tensions with the U.S. due to the S-400s were both developments that decreased the tension. Likewise, for Trump's meeting with President Xi Jinping, the message that they would return to the negotiating table to settle the trade disputes between the two countries and his statement that would pave the way for Huawei to sell equipment to U.S. companies were both unexpected and threw global investors off track.

Therefore, it will be very interesting to see how global markets evaluate these statements and how they will reflect on stock markets and the value of the currencies of developing countries against the dollar, especially the Turkish lira.

In the final declaration of the leaders' summit, it was very meaningful that effort will be put into establishing a free, fair, nondiscriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and especially that issues causing tension were omitted.

The mentioning that reforms for increasing the efficiency of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has seen troubled times due to increasing pressure, would be supported and that G20 countries would be working together to create equal global conditions proved concerns about the effectiveness of the G20 summit wrong.

The next few years will determine how long-lasting the diplomatic traffic to calm the global tension before the G20 leaders' summit and the concerns over global growth and trade will be.

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