"Türkiye’deki Yatırım Ortamı ve Yeni Tesvik Sistemi’ konulu toplantının açılış konuşması

Ebru Barutçu Gökdenizler 03.12.2012
Mr. President, Distinguished guests;

• I would like to start by expressing how pleased I am to be here today at this event organized by the Portuguese Industrialists Association/AIP. I would like to thank the Vice President of AIP Mr. Joao DOTTI and his staff for their warm welcome and particularly for their cooperation and contributions in the realization of this seminar.

• I hope this meeting will provide Portuguese investors and business circles with detailed and first-hand information on the current business and investment environment in Turkey and the new investment incentive regime for foreign investors.

• We have here today senior officials and experts from the Turkish Ministry of Economy, responsible for the implementation of this new regime, who will make presentations on the subject and will later be happy to answer any specific questions you may have.

• I have very recently arrived in Lisbon. It has been exactly 3 months to be precise. In this short period of time, I am very happy to note a keen interest and positive perception of the Portuguese business people towards Turkey. Nevertheless, it seems as if the Turkish market is one of the less known in Portugal. So let me mention a few facts about Turkish economy.

• At a time of recession and uncertainties in European economies, Turkey has been able to show resilient growth and engineered the “soft landing” of the economy. This success has also been praised at the international level. International Rating Institutions such as “Fitch” upgraded Turkey to the “investable level”, while almost every other European country is being downgraded.

• The growth rate of the Turkish economy in 2011 was 8,5%. Turkish economy continues to grow at a more moderate rate of 3.0 % in 2012, which remains still the fastest economic growth rate in Europe.

• According to OECD estimates, Turkey is expected to grow about 6.7 % per year in average between 2011 and 2017.

• Turkey is the 17th largest economy in world and the 7th in Europe with its 800 billion USD of GDP.

• Per capita income in Turkey has tripled and reached over 10.000 USD. The rate of unemployment has been reduced to the single digit level of about 9 % in 2012.

• Turkey is one of the few countries to meet the Maastricht criteria in Europe in terms of public debt (40% of GDP) and budget balance (2,8% of GDP).

• Foreign trade is the most dynamic component of the Turkish economy. Turkish exports have tripled in the last 8 years. Our foreign trade volume has exceeded 300 billion USD.

• Turkey has managed to diversify its export markets. The share of the traditional European market has been falling, with exporters increasingly targeting markets in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and other potential new markets. Currently Turkish businessmen export over 20 thousand different types of products to some 239 different countries around the globe.

• These types of events as well as business visits will certainly create a better awareness about the business potential that exists between our two countries.

• Portugal and Turkey enjoy excellent bilateral relations. Located on the two far shores of the European continent and the Mediterranean basin, we share the same identity and values. As two important members of the Transatlantic Alliance, we also share a similar vision as allies. As a result, our countries have similar views on many current regional and international issues. Furthermore, we appreciate the sustained support of Portugal for Turkey’s accession to the EU, which is a source of strength for us.

• I observe that our business people also have many similarities. Both are dynamic, open to new opportunities and strong in neighboring regions.

• I believe that based on this excellent ground, there are ample opportunities for further expanding our ties in commercial and economic areas through increasing interaction and exchanges between our business circles and companies.

• There has been a visible increase in high- level visits and contacts between our countries recently. This year Minister Portas, accompanied by 20 Portuguese businessmen, visited Turkey at the beginning of April. The Minister of Economy also made a successful trip to Turkey in July to present the privatization program in Portugal.

• You may be aware that Prime Minister Passos Coelho will be paying a visit to Turkey later this month. We hope to have a broad participation in the business delegation accompanying the Prime Minister.

• Our President is also looking forward to visiting Portugal next year.

• I am confident these visits will serve as valuable opportunities to put our business people in contact to help forge stronger ties and new partnerships in economic, commerce and investment relations between our countries.

• We are also working on establishing a bilateral mechanism, the “Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO)”, between Turkey and Portugal. It will explore new ways and means to further develop the economic and trade relations between the two countries and will be a platform to exchange views to eliminate any impediment arising in bilateral economic cooperation. I believe this new mechanism will put the main actors in the driving seat of our economic and commercial relations. We hope to conclude this agreement during the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Ankara.

Mr. President, Distinguished guests;

• We admire the determination of Portugal to comply with the targets set in the Troika Program and to implement structural reforms. We maintain our positive perception about the ability of Portugal to overcome this difficult period and return to growth soon. As stated by the Troika on 19 November 2012, real GDP in 2013 should gradually return to positive quarterly growth rates during the year, with annual GDP in 2014 expected to grow by 0.8%.

• As a country which has “been there” too in early 2000s, and which overcame the economic hardships by pursuing strict macroeconomic policies, fiscal discipline, and realizing important structural reforms, perhaps there are some experiences to share here.

• Moreover, the dynamic and mature Turkish private sector with its 135 billion USD export potential could serve as a reliable business partner for Portuguese business circles in opening up to new markets.

• Portugal and Turkey can be strategic and global business partners in third countries. Turkey is a gateway to Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and North Africa, in the same way Portugal is to the Portuguese speaking countries in Latin America and Africa. The businessmen of our two countries could benefit from each other’s expertise in these regions, both in terms of trade, construction and investments. Our business people are particularly interested to cooperate in construction and renewable energy projects in these regions.

• We are pleased to see that trade between Turkey and Portugal continues to grow rapidly despite the current negative economic environment.

• Indeed, our bilateral trade volume increased three folds in the past 10 years. Turkey and Portugal had a trade volume of only 352 million USD in 2001; whereas today it has exceeded 1 billion USD.

• In the first nine months of 2012, our bilateral trade volume reached over 800 million USD, with around a 150 million Dollar surplus in favor of Portugal.

• These figures do not reflect the true potential of our respective countries. Our goal should be to become major trading partners and to at least double our present trade volume.

• We welcome Portuguese investments in Turkey in a variety of sectors. According to our records, there are some 37 companies with Portuguese capital operating in Turkey and we are happy to note that this number is growing. Portuguese investments in Turkey have reached almost 759 million USD.

• In my opinion, there still remain unexploited opportunities in various fields between our countries. Particularly in areas such as; cooperation in construction projects in third countries, renewable energy projects, tourism and real estate investments, transport and logistics, as well as machinery and the automotive industry.

• We want to see more Portuguese entrepreneurs look for investment opportunities in Turkey and to consider Turkey as a global business partner.

• Similarly, we are also encouraging our business people to look into investment opportunities in Portugal as well as to explore the possibilities provided by the comprehensive privatization programme here.

• Turkey, with its growing economy, dynamic internal market, macroeconomic stability, strategic location, young and educated population as well as workforce, is an attractive base for international investors.

• Within just a 3-hour flight distance, one can access 56 countries. You can reach a market of 1,5 million people, and 22 trillion USD of GDP. This advantageous location and proximity to new emerging markets serves as an excellent base for economic activities.

• So far, Turkey has attracted 110 billion USD of FDI in the last 9 years and was ranked as the 13th most attractive FDI destination in 2012, with over 30,000 foreign companies investing in Turkey.

• Considering that almost 78% of Portugal’s trade is realized within the EU, opening up to new markets is a necessity for the Portuguese economy in view of the recession in the Eurozone. Therefore it is no coincidence that Portugal is pursuing an aggressive economic diplomacy, as a result of which its exports have increased by 15,2% last year.

• In this regard, Turkey, as Europe’s fastest growing economy offers significant opportunities for Portuguese investors.

• The Turkish Government has put into force this year a new extensive Investment Incentive Program, the details of which will be provided by our experts shortly. The program offers a wide range of fiscal and equivalent incentives for strategic, large-scale and regional investments. Since June 2012, 95 foreign investors benefitted from this new regime and obtained investment incentives worth 1 billion Euro.

• I hope that, after today’s seminar, you will also join those who have benefitted from the new incentive program of the Turkish Government.



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