The German-Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) opened a new bureau at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) in Ankara on Wednesday to take economic ties between the two countries to a new level. Speaking at the economy meeting titled, "Significant opportunity in vocational training: digitalization," and the opening ceremony of the new bureau in TOBB's twin towers, Minister of Science, Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank said: "AHK Turkey, which celebrates its 25th anniversary, has been contributing to development of economic ties between the two countries. Germany, with a trade volume reaching $36 billion, is Turkey's biggest trade partner; we host more than 7,000 German companies that have an investment volume over $14 billion and employ 140,000 people."
According to data compiled by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), bilateral trade between Turkey and Germany in 2017 totaled $36.4 billion. Turkey's exports to Germany amounted to $15.1 billion, while imports were $21.3 billion.
Stressing that the new bureau in Ankara will pave the way for taking economic ties to a new level, Varank said that the two countries' ties have recently gained momentum thanks to a series of high-level meetings. Referring to the visit of German Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier to Turkey last October, Varank said that they agreed to take concrete steps.
Altmaier visited Turkey on Oct. 25 for the Turkey-Germany Joint Economy and Trade Committee (JETCO) meetings, after which the two sides gave momentum to projects to upgrade bilateral economic relations. As part of the JETCO mechanism, five working groups have been established. The first, the Trade Working Group, will work to expand the bilateral trade volume between Germany and Turkey under the coordination of TOBB and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK).
"One of the most exciting subjects is the step we will take in the field of artificial intelligence. Following the local elections, we plan to organize an artificial intelligence conference in Berlin in a date that suits both sides," Varank said and stressed that this conference is critical in drawing a road map.
The German-Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry was founded in 1994 in order to enhance economic ties.
In his speech, Varank noted that it would be beneficial to form an Industry and Technology Cooperation Council. The minister said that, with the cooperation of the Turkish-German University and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University, a technopark will be established and that they expect Fraunhofer Institute to participate in the process.
Varank stressed that the subject of the meeting was essential. He added that the Istanbul Chamber of Industry, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, Istanbul Technical University (ITU), the Ministry of National Education (MEB) and his ministry implemented a vocational training protocol two months earlier. Coordinated by MEB, particular schools will be determined and some laboratories and workshops will be set up for human resources to meet the needs of various sectors.
Speaking at the event, DIHK CEO Martin Wansleben said that they welcome the opening of the new bureau and said, "As countries we have differences yet we should not build boundaries; instead we must benefit from the differences." Wansleben pointed to the significance of continuing open dialogue to improve the investment environment.
Ankara Chamber of Commerce President Gürsel Baran underscored in the meeting that economic ties between Turkey and Germany are significant and can be improved with further steps. "Between the years 2002-2018, direct foreign investment from Germany to Turkey approached 9 billion euros [$10.17 billion]. Baran said the integration of Turkey with Europe is essential for the region and beyond. Thus, he stressed that steps such as the modernization of the customs union and visa liberalization need to be taken. Noting that Turkey and the EU are genuine economic partners, Baran said the two sides need to support each other.