Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan has called for strengthening economic and trade relations among the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries.
"The time has come for building a strong economy originated from the Islamic countries," the minister said while addressing an International Business Forum in Jeddah on Saturday.
More than 200 Turkish businessmen, bankers, economists and officials are taking part in the forum aimed at promoting Saudi-Turkish business and investment ties.
Caglayan underscored the strength of Saudi economy and its ability to accommodate various projects and establish partnership with other countries such as Turkey.
"We are looking forward to establishing greater economic links with Saudi markets and opening more doors for Turkish investors and companies in the Kingdom," said Caglayan, who arrived here Friday at the head of a high-level delegation.
He noted the remarkable progress achieved by Saudi and Turkish exports. "The industrial sector is the core of Saudi-Turkish trade relations, representing 88 percent of Turkish exports to the Kingdom," he pointed out.
Caglayan said there are a lot of Saudi-Turkish investment opportunities, especially in the areas of construction, agriculture, food industry, tourism and services. He said the two countries wanted trade exchange to reach $20 billion.
The Turkish minister later discussed a number of Saudi-Turkish joint projects with Ahmed Muhammad Ali, president of Islamic Development Bank and sought IDB's financial support to boost bilateral trade between the two Muslim states.
The forum saw the signing of two agreements between Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TÜSIAD). Mazen Batterjee, vice president of JCCI, said the forum would help explore new trade and investment opportunities in both countries.
Caglayan is expected to hold talks with Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan Alrabiah, Minister of Transport Jabara Al-Seraisry, Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Housing Minister Shuwaish bin Saud Al-Dhuwaihi and Municipal and Rural Affairs Minister Prince Mansour bin Miteb.
Caglayan is accompanied by representatives of almost 100 Turkish companies serving in textile, ready-made clothing, construction, food, automotive, furniture, jewelry, home textile, medicine, medical devices, machinery and equipment.
The visit, as Anatolia news agency notes, aims to raise Turkey's share in Saudi Arabian market and create new export and contracting opportunities.
Turkish-Saudi Arabian trade relations have improved significantly in the last decade. Trade volume between the two countries rose to $5.5 billion in 2008 from $1.7 billion in 2003. In the first ten months of 2011, Turkey's exports to Saudi Arabia rose 19.2 percent year-on-year and reached $2.2 billion. In the same period, Turkey's imports from the Kingdom were up 46 percent and reached $2.7 billion.
Turkey's economy expanded 8.2 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Caglayan, who has been bullish on fast-growing Turkey's economic prospects, stressed that the economy's current account deficit would continue to improve in the final two months of the year.
The Jeddah forum comes ahead of a Saudi-Turkish Joint Commission meeting that begins in Riyadh on Sunday to discuss prospects of expanding economic and trade relations. Turkey holds 14th position among Saudi Arabia's trading partners. There are 159 joint ventures in the Kingdom including 41 industries.