The 7th Ethio-Turkey Joint Economic Forum held in Addis Ababa this week

The 7th Ethio-Turkey Joint Economic Commission and Business Forum was held at the Sheraton Addis this week on Wednesday (December 28). Organized by Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and the Turkey-Ethiopia Business Council in partnership with The Embassy of Turkey in Addis Ababa and Business Diplomacy Directorate General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, the Forum saw the convening of a number of distinguished guests from both countries including the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu; the Economy Minister of Turkey, Mr. Nihat Zeybekci; as well as Members of Parliament and businessmen and government officials.

Dr. Workneh also held discussions with the Turkish Minister of the Economy Mr. Zeybekci on the sidelines of the Forum. The two ministers discussed ways to further expedite bilateral economic ties between the two countries, and they underlined that bilateral cooperation was moving in a steep and upward trajectory. Ethiopia's Foreign Minister noted that Turkish investment, which was now worth some two billion dollars, had created employment opportunities for thousands of Ethiopians. He said that bilateral trade had increased from only US$27 million in 2000 to $450 million in the last year. He said, "We strongly value our relations. These are strategic not only in the economic sphere but also in various other areas."  The Minister added: "Turkey is part of our development journey." He particularly emphasized that the Awash - Kombolcha - Hara Gebeya railway project, which is being built by a Turkish company, was laying the platform to allow for further advancement of their bilateral relations.

The Turkish Minister of the Economy, Mr. Zeybekci stressed Turkish investors were employing Ethiopians and "helping to increase the country's exports as well as develop its economy". Expressing his country's stance to bridge the gaps in the Ethio-Turkey trade balance, the Minister said, "With more investment, we intend to enhance Ethiopia's production capacity and advance the country's market share globally."

Opening the Joint Economic Forum, Dr. Workneh said Ethiopia and Turkey had enjoyed a long-standing and historic relationship. He said, "We are very much delighted and encouraged by the dynamic relation we have." The Minister also commended Turkey's financial and technical assistance towards Ethiopia's infrastructure development and Turkey's role in Ethiopia's efforts to realize its vision of middle-income economic status by 2025. He invited more Turkish investment especially in Ethiopia's priority areas, including agro-processing.

Mr. Nihat Zeybekci said the Forum would lay down a new milestone and open an "enthusiastic period for the two countries". He said the bilateral Business Council should make sector matching for enhanced business ties. He added: "We want Ethiopia to win first and come to the level where we can forge a balanced economic cooperation." He went on to say: "In coming decades, the new engine of development in the globe is going to be Africa and as one of its rising stars, Ethiopia is going to be a land of opportunity."
Ethiopia's Minister of Industry, Ahmed Abtew, told the Forum: "Ethiopia has already dedicated desks for Turkey in the Ministry of Trade and the Investment Commission to enhance information exchange and deliver better service for Turkish Investors". He commended Turkish investors for the great role they were playing in increasing Ethiopian exports and in the flow of FDI during GTP I. He called for Turkish investors to further enhance their role in GTP II. Then Minister said: "We have to embark on high-quality investments for high value added production". He called for increased technical and development cooperation and noted that both sides were satisfied by the Forum's results and the prospects laid down out for the future.

The Chairman of Ethio-Turkey Business Council (DEIK), Mr. Emre Aykar told the Forum that Ethiopia was one of the Council's most important business partners in Africa. Welcoming the increase in trade between the two countries, he called on the Forum to think of ways to implement strategic methods of development. He suggested assignment of Turkish desk officers to pertinent Ethiopian authorities, the preparation of necessary legal arrangements in Banks to ease transactions in trade relations between the two countries, easing visa and immigration procedures for business personnel, further incentives for Turkish investors in tax exemption, and the introduction of a large Turkish Airline carrier to encourage an increased numbers of tourists and a greater flow of cargo.
Mr. Solomon Afework, President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association stressed that the Forum was "a way to further deepen the bilateral trade relation between the two countries". Noting the important role played by the mutual investment protection agreement in increasing Turkish investment, the President of the Chamber of Commerce said, "There are 115 Turkish companies with the highest number of employees in the private sector in Ethiopia," adding "the private sector is an engine of the economy and we invite more investors from Turkey."

The Vice-President of the Foreign Economic Relations' Board and President of the Turkish Exporters Assembly, Mr. Mehmet Buyukeksi, pointed out to the Forum that the official state visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey in 2007, had laid the foundation for fruitful economic fora between the two countries. The current 7th Forum was an example of this. He said, "We have our 2023 national objectives and Africa has its 2063 objectives. We should align these and work to achieve those objectives."
After useful discussions and valuable networking, the 7th Ethio-Turkish Joint Economic Forum concluded with the signing of a series of agreements and Memoranda of Understand, covering developments for small and medium-scale manufacturing industry, cooperation in the mining sector, in particular in the area of hydrocarbon resources, and standardization of bilateral business links.