The Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TTCI) has officially opened its doors in Istanbul and is said will pave the way for an increase in bilateral trade volume between regional countries.
Speaking at the first general assembly of TTCI yesterday, Turkey's Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said the establishment of the union will help Turkic Council countries – and Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – to boost their bilateral trade volume.
The chamber was established to support the development of mutual trade and investment relations between Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The current head of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) was named the first president of TTCI.
"As Turkic Council countries, our gross domestic product (GDP) reaches $1 trillion, but our bilateral trade volume fell short of this figure," Pekcan underlined.
The share of Turkic Council countries' trade volume rose 5% globally to $522 billion last year, she said.
"Bilateral trade volume among Turkic Council countries increased 16.7% on a yearly basis to $6.5 billion," she said.
When Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were included in this figure, it reached $9 billion, she added.
She went on to say "it is in our hands to increase this figure. Turkey has invested approximately $15 billion in the member states of the Turkic Council. The investments of these countries in our country, on the other hand, are approximately $7.7 billion."
The minister also noted that Turkish contractors have undertaken 969 projects worth $39 billion. "This data shows the progress we have made in recent years but unfortunately remains insufficient. It is about time we reflect our strong ties to our commercial relations. We must reflect our real potential to our relationships by increasing our mutual investments and trade."
She called on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to join the Turkic Council to strengthen its commercial structure.
The Turkic Council was established in 2009 as an international intergovernmental organization, with the aim of promoting comprehensive cooperation among Turkic-speaking states. Its four founding member states are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.
Pekcan pointed to logistical obstacles as the reason why mutual trade could not increase further. "With the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line opened in 2017, we have overcome most of the logistical barriers," she continued. "The Caspian Sea is no longer an obstacle between us, but as a means of transport and as a proof of our unity, we need to be able to engage more, to overcome logistical barriers and to pave the way for our trade. We want to see the Caspian as a sea that unites us, not separates us."
The minister also touched on the mutual encouragement of investments and recalled that they updated their agreements with Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. She added that they would encourage the increase of mutual investments by updating these agreements with other countries as soon as possible.
Pekcan suggested that they should increase the number of business forums, seminars and trade fairs among the member countries and maybe organize joint exhibitions. "Turkey does not consider regional cooperation only as natural resources," she noted. "The world is going through a technological transformation. We also attach importance to training in our region under the leadership of the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry."