Mahathir: Malaysia must grab aerospace, defense tech transfer opportunities offered by Turkey

Published 30.07.2019 00:15

The opportunities Turkey offers for technology transfer in the field of aerospace and the defense industry should be grabbed by Malaysia, a report said, citing the country's prime minister's comments made at the end of his official visit to Turkey.

"Malaysia appreciates Turkey's willingness to transfer technology," Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed was quoted as saying by Malaysia's English-language daily, The Star. Mahathir reportedly said Turkey had achieved extraordinary success in the aerospace industry "within a short period of time, which was outstanding."

Before he left Turkey, the prime minister received Malaysian press members at Istanbul's Sabiha Gökçen Airport, which is operated by Malaysia Airports.

Mahathir arrived in Turkey on July 24 at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On Thursday, Mahathir paid a visit to Turkish engine maker Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). The Malaysian prime minister received information about the Turkish defense industry and toured the facilities of the TAI.

Mahathir also watched an airshow featuring T129 ATAK helicopters, Hürkuş-B training aircraft and Anka unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the TAI during the last leg of the visit.

On the other hand, Mahathir and President Erdoğan toured the facilities of Turkey's leading UAV manufacturer Baykar in Istanbul Saturday.

"During my visit, they have shown their ability in technologies such as those concerning airplanes, helicopters and UAVs. Twenty years ago, when I came here [Turkey], they could only assemble the F-16 aircraft," he reportedly said.

"Now, they can design [and] test their own products. Their helicopters look very sophisticated. Within a short time, they have succeeded in acquiring sophisticated technology," he told journalists at Sabiha Gökçen Airport Saturday.

The prime minister said the offer of cooperation was rather interesting as Turkey was prepared to give access to technology, something he said was difficult to obtain from other parties.

"We believe the opportunities offered should be taken to leapfrog others, to gain technology in the fields of aircraft and UAVs. The UAV is the most important. This had been exhibited by Turkey, who displayed their capabilities, performing numerous military actions," said Mahathir.

The report also cited the prime minister as saying that Turkish companies had also shown strong interest in Malaysia. "Usually companies possessing sophisticated technology would not be willing to expose their ability but here, they stated their willingness to take our engineers [from Malaysia] in various fields – in the designing sector, manufacturing, testing and so on.

"Cooperation in the field of defense is very important to us. We can control technology, but it would take a long time," The Star cited Mahathir as saying.

Meanwhile, in Thursday's joint news conference, Erdoğan said they discussed cooperation between Turkey and Malaysia as two D-8 members and strategic partners.

The president said the two nations must increase their bilateral trade to $5 billion and continue negotiations to expand the scope of the free trade agreement (FTA) that took effect in 2015. The aim is to include trade in electronic goods, services and investments. In 2018, Turkey's exports to Malaysia totaled $365.4 million, while its imports from the country were recorded at $2.1 billion.

The Turkish president also presented Mahathir the Order of the State of the Republic of Turkey, the highest state honor awarded to foreign nationals.

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