By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
The Turkiye-Ceylon Business Chamber was inaugurated this week to promote bilateral ties and exploit opportunities between the two countries and the world.
“The TCBC will further bilateral business ties between Sri Lanka and Turkey and allow businesses in both countries exploit opportunities in the world,” TCBC Founding President Reyaz Mihular said.
He said that the TCBC is affiliated with the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON), which has affiliates with over 140 countries, which will be the biggest advantage of the Colombo-based chamber.
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen, who was the chief guest at the inauguration, said that although bilateral trade between the two countries have been ongoing for thousands of years, the past decade has seen the strongest growth.
“We had bilateral trade of US $ 311 million, growing by 34 percent from 2013 to 2014. Trade between the countries from 2005 to 2014 grew by an impressive 219 percent,” he said.
Bathiudeen added that the balance of trade is in favour of Sri Lanka. Turkey is the biggest buyer of Ceylon tea, which they use to blend and repackage other teas with as part of their tea hub strategy.
In addition to trade, Bathiudeen said that the TCBC would create a favourable climate for foreign direct investments.
“Turkey’s businesses have always been interested in Sri Lanka. When Turkish businessmen met me in 2014, they expressed their interest in entering Sri Lanka, especially into the tourism sector,” he said.
Turkey’s tourist arrivals in 2014 was 41.1 million, compared to Sri Lanka’s 1.5 million showing the value the Turkish private sector places on Sri Lanka’s tourism potential.
Other opportunities Sri Lanka is presented with through the inauguration of the TCBC would include construction—in which Turkey is the second largest in the world following China—and high-tech industrial technology including automobiles, textiles and leather.
Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world with a GDP of US $ 820 billion and per capita income of over US $ 10,400.
It has had a growth rate of 4.7 percent since 2002, its debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio fell from 67.7 percent to 33.5 percent from 2003 to 2014 and the budget deficit fell from over 10 percent to less than 3 percent in the same period due to prudent macroeconomic policies.
TUSKON Representative Mecit Ozkelebek invited Sri Lankan businesses to explore opportunities in Turkey, saying that it takes just six days to set up a business and the country has one of the most liberal foreign investment and business climates in the world.