Expanded ties with Turkey 'to benefit both sides' (By Li Jiabao, China Daily-Europe, 11 April 2012)

Vice-Premier Wang Qishan has urged the expansion of trade cooperation between China and Turkey into emerging fields including new energy, space exploration, energy conservation and environmental protection.


Stronger trade cooperation will support economic growth and employment in both countries, said Wang at the Turkish-Chinese Business Forum on Tuesday.


"Prospects for cooperation between China and Turkey are very broad since both nations share complementary economic structures," he said.


"China's industrialization and urbanization imply great market potential, while Turkey has embarked on fast economic growth."


Wang said the global economic outlook remains challenging and complex. Both countries need to strengthen their cooperation in transportation, energy and communications.


Railway construction can be a priority for bilateral infrastructure cooperation.


Two agreements, including a letter of intent between China's National Energy Administration and the Turkish Energy Ministry for further nuclear cooperation, were signed during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday.


China is edging ahead in the international contest to build a nuclear power station on Turkey's Black Sea coast, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing an official in Ankara.


Wang also called for an innovative cooperation model - a dynamic combination of goods trade, services trade, project contracting and mutual investment.


"Medium- and long-term trade cooperation guidelines should be set down soon and a cooperation mechanism, including a joint trade committee and the new Silk Road committee, need to be improved.


"The two countries should sign the revised investment protection agreement as soon as possible to expand mutual investment and deepen cooperation in financing as well as tourism," Wang said.


China is Turkey's third-largest trade partner. Data from China's Ministry of Commerce show that bilateral trade increased by 24.2 percent to $18.74 billion in 2011.


The two governments set a bilateral trade goal of $50 billion by 2015 and $100 billion by 2020 during Wen's visit to Turkey in 2010.


However, an outstanding trade deficit with China has concerned Turkish officials, who urged Chinese investors to explore the Turkish market.


The trade deficit stood at $19.23 billion in 2011, up 28.9 percent year-on-year, and China is the biggest contributor to Turkey's trade deficit, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.


"Trade between China and Turkey surged fast in the past decade, but there is a large trade deficit for Turkey and both governments are working on measures for balanced trade," Erdogan said in Beijing.


Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said that the $50 billion trade goal for 2015 should be achieved in a balanced way. He added that "Turkey's new measures for attracting foreign investment bring business opportunities for Chinese companies".


Turkey is open to foreign investment and is doing everything to create a prosperous environment for foreign investors.


"Investments in textiles, national defense and space flight will receive preferential treatment in aspects of customs duties, insurance and interest rates," according to Erdogan.


Rifat Hisarciklioglu, chairman of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, said: "China can explore the markets of the Middle East, North Africa and Russia through increasing investment in Turkey" while the United States and the European Union are troubled by financial problems.


"The two nations should start long-term and sustainable cooperation.


"Turkey welcomes Chinese investment in solar energy and wind power and cooperation can be started in the areas of agriculture and food safety," he said, suggesting that China simplify investment procedures for Turkish companies.


Erdogan urged Turkish and Chinese companies to cooperate on project contracting in the global market. Turkey was the second-largest construction and contracting provider in recent years, after China.


Turkey, the world's seventh-largest tourism destination, also aims to attract more Chinese to explore its culture, history and religion.


"Chinese tourists now only account for a very small portion of the visitors to Turkey," Erdogan said.



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