Top Turkish business body sees investment ‘signals’ from Europe, US

Despite anticipated global challenges in 2024, Türkiye will once again “stand positively” together with a disinflation program and policies aimed at supporting growth by bolstering production, investment and exports, according to a senior business official.

Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) President Nail Olpak said they have begun to “receive signals” from foreign investors, after the country shifted to more conventional policymaking after the May elections.

“We should wait for foreign investments, but it would be misleading to question why they haven’t arrived next month. For example, we will see that investments coming from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be spread over time,” Olpak said during a news conference in Istanbul.

Olpak provided information on DEIK’s commercial diplomacy activities during a meeting held at its head office, where he evaluated the year 2023 and shared the agenda for 2024.

“If you ask whether we receive signals for investments in discussions with other countries, the answer is yes. We receive signals not only from the Middle East but also from Europe and the United States,” Olpak said, detailing the four sectors that are widely discussed.

“I can say that energy, digitization, food and agriculture and the health sectors are highly discussed. Regarding this, they (investors) will monitor how much of the goals set within the scope of new economic policies announced by the new economic administration are achieved,” he explained, referring to the return to more conventional policymaking following elections earlier this year.

“We expect foreign investors to be interested in Türkiye even before the local elections, but we anticipate that there will be more activity after the elections and that both portfolio and direct investments will increase,” he outlined. “This will help us reduce our foreign exchange gap and help us manage inflationary expectations,” he said.

Furthermore, he expressed that there is a new period in the global economy with a slight slowdown in growth, the continuation of the impact of global inflation, and transformations in trade and investments.

He emphasized that Turkish businesses should open to new markets with high-value-added products and expand opportunities with investments that align with trends.

2024 agenda

In this context, while new trade and energy corridors stand out in the 2024 agenda of DEIK, which continues to accelerate foreign economic relations with its vision of more trade, the topics, including the green economy and digital economy, will also be on the radar of commercial diplomacy.

Referring to the prominent regional topics in DEIK’s 2024 road map and agenda, Olpak stated that, as DEIK, they have created a new road map for every country and region on their radar, with an approach that also considers the sectors.

Delving into topics such as updating the customs union agreement with the EU, Türkiye’s position in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and cooperation approach in Africa, the DEIK head said they expect the country’s exports to increase to $267 billion in 2024.

He noted that they divided the world into six regions and explained DEIK’s commercial diplomacy activities in the regions while touching upon key areas of development and main focus considering the trade.

“If we consider Europe, although the annual trade volume between Türkiye and the EU reaches $200 billion, the customs union, which covers only industrial and processed agricultural products, needs to be rapidly updated, that is, modernized, to adapt to the needs of today’s trade,” Olpak explained.

In addition, when considering the U.S. market, he also mentioned that DEIK had restructured its commercial diplomacy activities in the U.S. with state-based committees, adding that they eventually aim to raise the export value to $1 billion for each state.

Trade with Israel

Touching on Israel’s attacks on Gaza, Opak, in answer to journalists’ questions, said that Israel caused images in Gaza that “the human heart could not bear.”

“(However), when we come to the commercial side, it was not said: ‘No more trade with Israel.’ But we observe that there is a serious decrease and contraction in the last two months,” he said.

“We see that the commercial contraction is around the 30%-40% level. This is the direct reaction of companies and people in this process. This reaction within two months should not be underestimated,” Olpak noted, adding that DEIK did not survey its members regarding commercial relations with Israel.

“I think that the boycott of Israel on the agenda is in a different position than the old boycotts. The reaction in the world is not like that. In other words, there is a different reaction than we have experienced.”

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