Remarks by Ambassador Osman Koray Ertaş at the International Business Forum
Honorable Minister Oprea,
Honorable State Secretaries, Dear colleagues,
Members of the business community,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Turkish-Romanian relations have witnessed a steady expansion in the last quarter century, creating a trust-based and solid partnership covering a diverse range of fields. At the basis of this relationship lies the existing strategic partnership, the strong NATO bond and above all the mutual political commitment to advance cooperation.
As a reflection of this commitment to enhance bilateral relations in every field, the level of our relations were raised to strategic partnership in December 2011. The Action Plan on the implementation of this partnership was signed in March 2013.
The most dynamic part of our cooperation has been in the economic and commercial fields. Indeed, since early 1990s our business communities have actively sought to use and develop the existing potential for cooperation, pushing for higher levels of economic integration. Today we are happy to see the concrete results of these joint efforts.
We attach great importance to strengthening Turkish – Romanian strategic partnership, in particular its economic dimension. There is no doubt that our investors in Romania has a share in this relationship reaching to its current level.
When we look at the figures, currently Turkey is the 6th largest trading partner of Romania and the largest trading partner outside the EU. Turkey and Romania are each other’s largest trading partners in the Balkans. Our bilateral trade volume, which was only $ 1.2 billion back in 2003, increased to $ 5.6 billion by the end of 2017, marking almost five-fold increase.Our bilateral trade volume in 2017 increased by %15,5 compared to 2016.
It is our common goal to further increase our bilateral trade to the level of $ 10 billion, as set out by our Presidents. We believe, we have a strong basis to build on to reach this target.
On the investment front, Romania continues to be a major destination for Turkish businesses. Investments made by Turkish entrepreneurs in Romania in the last quarter century have turned this friendly country into an important base for Turkish investors, not only in the Balkans but also on a global scale. There are more than 15.000 Turkish companies registered in Romania operating in a wide range of sectors, including banking, production, machinery, home appliances, construction, construction materials, textiles, health, transportation, tourism, agriculture, and food industry. Only in the last two years, we see important brands of Turkey either making green field investments or opening chains in various cities, including Piteşti, Oradea, Targovişte, Craiova, and Iasi. In all these endeavors we worked very closely with the Romanian Government, Ministry of Business Environment, and Invest Romania.
Turkey is among the largest investors in Romania with its current value of investment at about $ 7 billion including those coming from third countries. In this context, we would also like to see more Romanian investments in Turkey, which stand at the level of $ 20 million.
Romania continues to offer significant opportunities for both Turkish exports and investments.
We expect the contribution of the Turkish companies to the Romanian economy to grow stronger with the completion of the ongoing and planned investment projects. Through our joint efforts and support with our Romanian colleagues, we strive to encourage our private sector to expand their mutual investments in our respective countries and assist them in eliminating hurdles, notably the workforce problem and lack of infrastructure.
The “Turkish-Romanian Joint Economic Commission” (JEC) is the main mechanism where we discuss in depth the issues related to our economic-trade relations. Additionally, a declaration was signed on April 1, 2015 to form the “Joint Economic and Trade Commission” (JETCO) as a second mechanism. The 27th Session of the JEC and the first meeting of the JETCO will be held in coming months in Turkey together with a Turkish-Romanian Business Forum.
In addition to the formal mechanisms mentioned above, we recognize the sincere efforts of the Turkish business community in Romania, including the Association of the Turkish Businessmen in Romania (TIAD) and MÜSIAD, through the business council meetings organized throughout the year.
Friendship between Turkey and Romania is also reflected on the warm cultural ties and tourism has been an important avenue of cooperation. We are glad to observe that Turkey remains one of the top tourist destinations for Romanians. The number of Romanian tourists visiting Turkey is on the rise. In 2017, 424 thousand Romanian tourists visited Turkey, with an increase of %20,4 compared to 2016. In the first 6 months of 2018, we welcomed 253 thousand Romanian tourists, which is also a promising figure for the rest of the year. The number of regular weekly flights between Istanbul and Romanian cities surpassed 50. The geographic proximity between our countries makes it possible for Romanians to travel to Turkey by plane, private cars and tour busses. Well known destinations in Turkey such as Istanbul, Çanakkale (Galipoli) and Kuşadası are presented as holiday packages which are highly popular among Romanian tourists over the last years. Turkey is ready to host more Romanian visitors in the coming years to enjoy its unique natural beauty, rich history and culture. We are also happy to see more and more Turkish visitors enjoying the beauties of Romania, including Constanta and Transylvania.
In short, Turkish-Romanian strategic partnership does not stay on the paper but generates tangible and positive inputs in both countries in various fields, notably the investment and trade. Together with the vibrant business community, member of which are here with us today, we will consolidate the strategic partnership with further concrete projects. No doubt that Ministry of Business Environment and Invest Romania will continue to be our strong partners in that endeavor. To conclude, I once againcongratulate the Ministry and Invest Romania for putting this international forum together.