The 19th Turkey-World Trade Bridge 2013 event organized by the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) was held in İstanbul last week, where some 1,500 businessmen from 130 countries held bilateral meetings with more than 1,000 Turkish companies in pursuit of business opportunities Today`s Zaman reported.
TUSKON Chairman Rizanur Meral said that numerous business deals worth $28 billion were concluded in the previous 18 bridges, adding that this total will increase to $30 billion this year. Meral further noted that 38,280 domestic and 29,270 foreign businessmen have participated in the trade bridges so far.
Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, who participated in the opening ceremony of the TUSKON event, emphasized that the trade bridges also serve as "bridges of hearts." Minister Caglayan underlined that this organization is significant for the Turkish economy and also said that TUSKON holds a crucial place in trade with Africa and America. Caglayan further noted that TUSKON has been a helpful player in the diplomatic and political spheres in many parts of the world.
Translation services were provided in 22 languages at the event, which was also sponsored by the Economy Ministry and the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM). Noting that over the last three years the event has been focused on the food, construction and textile sectors, Meral also adds that TUSKON believes there will be greater mobility in developing economies rather than in the markets of developed countries.
Businessmen from 130 countries, including South Sudan, Japan, Paraguay and the United Arab Emirates, have held more than 25,000 bilateral meetings in two days. Some interesting developments took place during the bilateral meetings. Thokozani Zului, son of the South African Zulu king, says they are ready to buy goods from Turkey in the amount of TL 10 million. The 30-year-old businessman wants to create business opportunities for the young jobless people in his country. D-Media, a Senegalese media conglomerate, made deals with Turkish companies to air Turkish soap operas in Senegal. The company's CEO, Bougane Gueye, notes that the Senegalese will be able to enjoy Turkish soap operas fairly shortly.
Cristiana Campos, one of the marketing managers from Grupo Pao de Acucar, the biggest retailer in Brazil and South America, said they would like to offer more options to their customers with the food products they would import from Turkey.
Noting that $500 million worth of business connections were made in the meetings, Meral says: "Turkey is now trying to export brand names. At the time we started this, we were selling goods; now, we are selling brands and franchising rights."
Moctar Chafi, CEO of Maxitrade, one of the biggest textile companies in the Ivory Coast, attracts attention to the success of TUSKON in such events and organizations, adding that TUSKON's activities are unique in the world.
There are 2,022 businessmen associations represented in TUSKON, which was created in 2005 as an umbrella organization of businessmen unions and associations to contribute to the economic and social development of Turkey. The organization, which aims to make Turkish entrepreneurs part of the global business world, has 55,000 businessmen as members. TUSKON has representatives in Washington, D.C., Brussels, Moscow, Beijing and Addis Ababa; it also has partner institutions and liaison offices in 130 countries. Swaziland, Comoros, Namibia, Botswana and South Sudan first came to recognize Turkey economically thanks to TUSKON's activities.
Recalling that the foreign trade bridge events were held without making any distinction between sectors between 2006 and 2009 for Africa, Eurasia, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Central Europe, Meral underlined that the scope of the summit was expanded to include all parts of the world under the name "World Trade Bridge" starting in 2009.
Meral stressed that TUSKON has organized 18 trade bridge events so far; 11 were regional, six were global and the remaining one was held as part of the UN Least Developed Countries Conference.
TUSKON, which plays an important role in Turkey's commercial opening programs, is a lead organization that enables Turkish businessmen and politicians to explore new markets and opportunities via its activities.
Noting that particularly African countries are paying attention to Turkey, Meral mentions that the "biggest problem is logistics and banking. Because we have [an] insufficient number of ports, the ships wait longer. There are almost no Turkish banks in these areas. If these problems are solved, export to African countries will double."
Mary M. Nagu, the Tanzanian investment and incentives minister who participated in last week's TUSKON summit along with 35 businessmen, says they have figured out a good way to do business with Turkey in peace and friendship thanks to TUSKON. "For us, Turkey will become a bridge to Europe and Russia. But Tanzania can also serve as a center of attraction in Africa for Turkey. It may make agricultural and industrial investments," Nagu says.
Minister Caglayan provided extensive information on Turkey's agricultural potential during the summit and underlined that the agricultural revenues of Turkey increased from $24 billion to $62 billion between 2003 and 2012. He said: "Turkey was the 11th largest economy in agricultural production 10 years ago; now it is ranked seventh [in 2012]." In this time, Turkey has raked in the largest agricultural revenue in Europe, leaving Spain, France and Italy behind. Caglayan says that Turkey's agricultural product exports have increased from $3.7 billion to $16 billion over the last 10 years.