Turkish-Philippine economic dialogue to gird bilateral ties

ELIF BINICI @elifbiniciersen

After signing the Turkey-Philippines Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement in 1999, the first meeting of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) was held yesterday with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and Filipino Trade and Industry Minister Ramon Lopez in attendance. The economic dialogue sealed with the first JEC meeting is expected to disclose the potential to benefit from the two countries' growth potential in cementing bilateral ties.

Canikli and Lopez signed a memorandum of understanding at the first JEC meeting. It will reportedly expand defense cooperation between Turkey and the Philippines. The two countries signed a declaration of intention in the defense industry last year.

Another memorandum on the promotion of trade investments was signed between the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT) and the Philippines Board of Investments.

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) Philippines Business Council Chair İlkem Şahin underscored the importance of Lopez's visit to Turkey to further the economic dialogue between the two countries. The Philippines is one of the 38 countries that Turkey has bilateral investment agreements with Şahin said, and added that both parties will strive to sign a free trade agreement as soon as possible.

Turkey and the Philippines currently have a bilateral trade volume of $230 million. In 2017, the value of Turkish exports to the country was $133 million.

"Turkey and the Philippines share similar qualities with their emerging economies benefitting from high economic potential. The mutual share of natural resources in both countries will certainly unleash more economic growth and development potential," Şahin said.

Şahin continued that businesspeople are aware of Turkey's strategy led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regarding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Noting DEİK's responsibility, Şahin said that the organization will work to improve Turkey's commercial and economic ties with the Philippines under the leadership of DEİK Chairman Nail Olpak. Recalling that Turkey became a sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN in early August when when the Philippines chaired the organization, Şahin said: "Turkey attributes vital importance to Southeast Asia and closely follows the developments in the region," adding that economic dialog partnership is the highest level of relations ASEAN sustains with countries that are not located in ASEAN's geographical limits. He said that Turkey's sectoral dialogue partnership with the organization is a major step to cement ties with the region.

ASEAN, a 10-country regional bloc with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, was founded on Aug. 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Following his election as the Philippines Business Council chair, Şahin paid a visit to the country and saw its growth potential firsthand. "I believe that the Philippines, with its growing foreign trade volume and its infrastructure for financial and human resources, will be one of the most important centers for Turkey's initiative into Asia," he said, adding that the country offers investment opportunities in construction, infrastructure, telecommunications, technology, inter-island transportation, finance, real estate and retail trade.

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