While Turkey reached its highest ever export figure last year, 30 international agreements ratified by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) have prepared the groundwork for new records in trade and exports. This has also paved the way for new economic cooperation in many fields from trade, defense, technology and transportation. Some 30 drafts were enacted in the TBMM regarding the ratification of agreements signed with 19 countries and two international organizations last year. The majority of the agreements inked with countries from Africa, Europe and Asia consisted of economic collaborations in various sectors.
These agreements covered various issues such as increasing trade, reciprocal promotion and protection of investments, taking measures to accelerate import and export, avoiding double taxation, preventing tax evasion, development of defense industry and scientific cooperation, establishment of a technology bank, international transportation of passengers and goods by land, maritime and air transport, and reciprocal assistance in customs.
Turkey's exports reached an all-time high of $168.1 billion, a 7.1 percent year-on-year increase in 2018, supporting the decrease in the foreign trade deficit by 28.4 percent to $55 billion. Imports also decreased by 4.6 percent to $223.1 billion. The export-import coverage ratio increased by 8.2 percentage points compared to 2017 and rose to 75.3 percent. The overall foreign trade volume slightly rose by 0.1 percent to $391.2 billion.
Some of the enacted laws covered agreements with countries in military, security, immigration, education, culture, strategic partnership and friendship, while some were inked with organizations such as the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
NEW COLLABORATIONS WITH CHINA, QATAR
Two of the laws ratified agreements signed with China. The agreements covering the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments have also paved the way for the process that will enable the $26 billion trade volume between Turkey and China to exceed $50 billion in a short period. The two countries, which are also in talks in other areas, as well as trade relations, aim to increase cooperation on various issues, including the establishment of cultural centers.
As friendly relations are retained between Turkey and Qatar in all areas from economic relations to diplomacy, from education to health, cooperation has also been reinforced with three agreements signed last year. Having signed a cooperation agreement on avoiding double taxation and preventing tax evasion in the taxes on income with Qatar, Turkey aims to increase the $1.7 billion trade volume in the field of maritime transport and education with the new steps to be taken and links to be established.
Turkey also signed agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina's Council of Ministers last year on cooperation in science and technology, international transport of passengers and goods by road with the intent of increasing the trade volume of $800 million to $1 billion in a short time.
Meanwhile, Turkey, which intends to add a high trade volume to its strong relations with Balkan countries, has opened new gates in trade with the reciprocal aid agreement signed with Montenegro last year.
Turkey has taken steps to strengthen its relations with new markets by signing cooperation agreements, spearheaded by the defense industry, not only with the neighboring countries but also with countries in remote regions. Having held a locality rate of 20 percent in defense industry 15 years ago, Turkey has raised this rate to over 65 percent with national and domestic breakthroughs.
DEALS WITH AFRICAN COUNTRIES ON DEFENSE INDUSTRY
Turkey, which has started to sell its defense industry products abroad, has expanded its trade network with the agreements signed in this regard. Cooperation agreements inked with Niger, Djibouti and Rwanda in this context were ratified by the Assembly.
The "Agreement on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments" signed with Bangladesh, on the other hand, aims to raise the $1.1 billion trade volume to $2 billion by the end of 2020.
The co-operation agreements inked with the countries that many people will have difficulty finding on the map came to the parliamentary agenda last year. The trade and economic cooperation agreement, which would bring a new dimension to relations with Namibia, attracted attention as an important step in the search for new markets. The agreements reached with international organizations also came to the Assembly's agenda in this period. The agreement between Turkey and the U.N. on the Establishment of a Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which are around 47 in number, aimed at developing global efforts to strengthen the capacities of these countries in the fields of science, technology and innovation. Set to be established in the Marmara Teknokent facilities of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), the technology bank is planned to contribute to the entrepreneurs aiming to develop advanced technology products, to operate in international platforms and to carry their research and development activities to international markets by establishing foreign partnerships.
In addition to an agreement on taking measures to accelerate the import and export of aid transport in case of disaster and emergency and goods belonging to aid personnel, Turkey strengthened its cooperation with the U.N. under the host country agreement with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.