Turkish business world anticipates that trade and investments between Turkey and Pakistan will advance into a new phase with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's upcoming visit to Pakistan for the 13th meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) on March 1. The Foreign Economic Relations Board's (DEIK) Turkey-Pakistan Business Council Chairman Atilla Yerlikaya told reporters that they expect that the free trade agreement will also be addressed and finalized during Erdogan's visit. "I believe this visit will pave the way for trade and investments and usher in a new period of partnership," Yerlikaya said.
Pointing out Pakistan's population of nearly 200 million, Yerlikaya stated that the country is on the brink of actualizing its great potential. Within the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, Pakistan's energy and logistics infrastructure will be renewed with an investment of $50 billion, which will pave the way for the agricultural and industrial sectors in the country.
Yerlikaya stressed Pakistan's great economic potential as the fourth-largest milk producer and the sixth-largest cotton producer in the world, saying that the country cannot convert this potential into value-added production because of its insufficient energy capacity.
According to Yerlikaya, even though Pakistan has made a great progress in nationwide security, Western media exaggerates its security problem. Stressing that Pakistan is no longer a country that is waiting to be discovered, Yerlikaya said the Turkish Anadolu Group has been present in Pakistan with its six factories and more than $500 million worth of investments since 2008.
Also, the Zorlu Group has been investing in the Pakistani energy sector for a decade. Having recently purchased Pakistan's leading white goods manufacturer, Dawlance, for $243 million, the Koc Group is also watching for opportunities in the country.
Stressing that the Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan, Babur Girgin, is an active and respected diplomat in the country, Yerlikaya noted that there are many opportunities to offer support for Turkish companies.
"We must hurry and take action. Pakistan may offer great opportunities for exports and investments in many sectors in which Turkey competes," he said.
According to a study conducted by the Pakistan Business Council (PBC), Turkey will have an opportunity to export $12 billion worth of goods to Pakistan in the free trade agreement, which is expected to be signed by the two countries soon.
"We must turn this opportunity into business," Yerlikaya concluded.
In terms of bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries, the current trade volume between Pakistan and Turkey is around $600 million, for which Prime Minister Sharif said was below its true potential during his visit to Ankara last week.
On the other hand, more than 100 Turkish firms are operating in Pakistan. With construction being the leading sector, Turkish investments are mainly focused on energy, finance, infrastructure projects and contracting sectors. Furthermore, the total amount of projects undertaken or completed by Turkish contractors since the early 1990s exceeds $2.7 billion.Additionally, there are also more than 100 Pakistani firms operating in Turkey that are mainly focused on electronics, telecommunications, machines, trade and banking. The number of Pakistani tourists visiting Turkey has increased over the past few years. While 48,420 Pakistani citizens visited Turkey in 2014, the figure reached 59,700 in 2015. According to the Foreign Ministry, since 2004, Turkey has been providing development aid to Pakistan, which reached $724.48 million during 2004-2013.