Turkey is just days away from hosting another major investment summit, during which it will be welcoming hundreds of high-level investors from around the globe and expects to witness a number of major investment deals, with some of them already agreed upon during preliminary meetings even though the event has yet to take place. The most densely populated city in Turkey, Istanbul, is preparing to host the Badeer 1st Business World and Investment Opportunities Summit on Dec. 5-6, within the framework of which Turkey expects to attract $3 billion in foreign investment and launch a billion-dollar investment fund, according to information that Badeer Investment Platform executive board member Ali Ercoşkun, a former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy, shared in an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah.
The event, which will be held under the auspices of the Trade Ministry and with the support of the Treasury and Finance Ministry, the Presidential Investment Office, the Industry and Technology Ministry and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, aims to bring together around 270 foreign investors from more than 40 countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Russia, Japan, France, Qatar, Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Turkish authorities, businessmen and business nongovernmental organizations.
It aims to attract foreign investors from all over the world, especially friendly nations and Arab countries, with the aim of providing a source of entry to Turkey with the vision of increasing foreign direct investment, diversification of investment resources and, most importantly, to make the investor's "increasing production" investments.
Opportunities in eight industries, namely energy, tourism, construction, defense, advanced technology, agriculture, livestock and health, will be explained to the attendees, Ercoşkun said.
The two-day event seeks to make Turkey a center of attraction for medium- and high-level foreign investors, explain the business law in Turkey as well as introducing foreign investors to issues such as citizenship rights, he explained.
Turkey has particularly seen a significant rise in the purchase of real estate by foreigners this year. Property sales to foreign buyers hit 6,276 units in October, pointing to a 134.4 percent increase. The boost in sales was largely supported by expansive campaigns launched by the government and real estate sector as well as legislative amendments to citizenship law. Foreigners purchased a total of 30,431 housing units between January and October this year. This rise came after the Turkish government reduced the limits for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship to encourage investment, according to new regulations published in the country's Official Gazette on Sept. 19.
Accordingly, foreigners who own real estate in Turkey worth a minimum of $250,000, instead of the previous limit of $1 million, can now apply for Turkish citizenship. Turkey's housing sales to foreigners have presented an upward trend since 2012, the year when parliamentary law made it easier for foreign investors to purchase real estate in the country.
According to the new regulation, the lower limit of fixed capital investments to acquire Turkish citizenship for foreigners has been reduced to $500,000 from $2 million.
The regulation also covers foreigners who deposit a minimum of $3 million in Turkish banks. The deposit requirement of a minimum $3 million in Turkish banks was also lowered to $500,000. A similar regulation applies to those foreign investors who hold government-issued bonds worth at least $500,000 that are not diversified for three years. The minimum requirement was $3 million for government bond-holding foreigners. Foreigners who generate jobs for a minimum 50 people - the previous requirement was 100 people - will also be able to apply for Turkish citizenship, the Official Gazette said.
Noting that in Turkey, 58,954 foreign-owned firms operate, Ercoşkun also explained that 34,573 companies are ventures between domestic and foreign partners. "Within the scope of this summit, foreign investors and domestic firms assemble to establish companies, partnership agreements, corporate acquisitions and project sharing. Signing the distributorship agreement as performing activities aimed at increasing imports and exports are expected to contribute to Turkey's economy," according to the official site of the summit.
Ercoşkun told Daily Sabah that the event has experienced intense demand from foreign investors and that the number of applications was higher than they previously expected.
Arab investors have been especially interested in Turkey's real estate sector in recent years, Ercoşkun informed, adding that with this event, they will be bringing foreign investment firms interested in areas such as industry, tourism, health and energy. The largest companies from the participating countries will be meeting the largest firms in Turkey within the scope of the summit, he added.
He underlined that the platform not only aims to bring Turkish and foreign investors together to discuss business opportunities in Turkey, but also to talk about potential cooperation in other regions such as the Balkans, Europe, Africa and Central Asia.
Ercoşkun also said that even though the event is yet to take place, there was some talk between the participants during the preliminary meetings and that they were going toward a conclusion. "The preliminary meetings are going really well. We may even witness some handshaking before the summit starts," he noted.
Ercoşkun exclusively said that with the aim of opening up to the Balkans, a group of Russian, Turkish and Arab businesspeople already agreed on a comprehensive deal to establish a joint company, without giving any further details.
Indicating that Turkey has one of the most ambitious incentive systems on a sectoral basis as well as regional basis in the world, Ercoşkun said, "In the light of our meetings with investors, we expect to attract around $3 billion in foreign direct investment to Turkey and
put into action a billion-dollar fund thanks to the summit. We saw that many investors, especially from the Arab countries, were interested in investing in Turkey over the last years; however, they lost time due to research studies regarding which sectors they should invest in and that some of the investors were misled regarding the visa-related issue, citizenship application processes and business law. On the first day of the two-part summit, which will be one of the most comprehensive installments to date, information panels will be organized, while on the second day, firms will come together with relevant investors."
Turkey attracted nearly $7 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first eight months of this year and the Presidential Investment Office expects it to reach over $11 billion by year's end. The country has attracted around $201 billion in FDI in the last 16 years.