Turkey and Qatar: A fruitful relationship
Turkey’s geographic proximity and cultural similarities with the GCC is an advantage for Qatari and Turkish businessmen.
The Ambassador of Turkey to Qatar H. Emre Yunt is confident that the longstanding relationship between Qatar and Turkey will continue to develop. “Considering the breakthrough that Qatar has accomplished during the last decade along with fraternal and deep-rooted historical ties between Turkey and Qatar, it is a must for the two countries to enjoy special relations and cooperation in every field, particularly in economy and trade,” says Yunt, “Frequent reciprocal visits by the leaders invigorates this process and plays an important role in developing our ties.”
The Republic of Turkey is the second largest country in Europe after Germany, with a population of approximately 73.7 million people, and it is expected that by 2020 Turkey will be the most populous European nation, with more than 83 million people. According to the International Monetary Fund, the economy of Turkey is defined as an emerging market and one of the world’s newly industrialised countries.
Geographically, Turkey straddles two continents, Europe and Asia, and this has led to its recognition as a regional power in the Middle East due to its strategic location, growing economy and diplomatic initiatives. In 1980 the Turkish embassy was established in Doha, and in 1992 a Qatari embassy was opened in Ankara. According to Yunt, currently there are 130,000 Turks residing throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Saudi Arabia, which is the largest country in the GCC hosts 100,000 Turks, Qatar 8,000 and the remainder residing in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.
Yunt explains to TheEDGE that there are many Turks working in Doha on a temporary basis, as administrators, engineers, and foremen for construction companies, who will return home once the projects are completed. “The others are from the southern part of Turkey near the Syrian border. They speak Arabic, and work in sectors like the restaurant business, kebab house owners, barbers and other types of small business,” he adds.
According to the Turkish Ministry of Economy, Qatar has many opportunities for Turkish exporters and contractors, which have attracted Turkish businessmen in the last decade, and since then bilateral trade between both countries has grown. Yunt says that there are around 35 Turkish companies in Doha, mostly in the construction sector and some have been awarded projects of around US$2.5 billion (QR9.1 billion).Turkish investment in Qatar is led by the construction sector, and currently there are 59 projects in Qatar with a total value of US$7.6 billion (QR27 billion) running until 2012. Turkish exports to Qatar in 2011 reached US$188 million (QR684 million) mainly in electrical machinery and appliances, US$46 million (QR167 million); manufacture of metals, US$17.8 million (QR64 million); iron and steel, US$15 million (QR54 million); non-metallic mineral products US$10 million (QR36 million); and furniture US$9.6 million (QR34 million).
Qatar exports to Turkey in 2011 totalled US$481 million (QR1.7 billion), concentrated primarily in non-ferrous metals US$308 million (QR1.1 billion); plastics in primary forms, US$80 million (QR291 million); gas, natural and manufactured, iron and steel US$27 million (QR98 million); and organic chemicals, US$17 million (QR61 million).
“We are trying to promote the Turkish construction, steel, marble, electronic goods, and food, and now Qatar has started to import livestock from Turkey,” continues Yunt. “When you go to the market you can see [Turkish] food stock such as cheese, soft drinks and also textile materials. We have a mutual cooperation in different industries, and we are hoping to have a permanent showroom in Qatar as well to promote Turkish industrial goods.”
In 1985, the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement between both countries was signed. In 2008, two more understandings were signed, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, and the Double Taxation Prevention Agreement. Moreover, in order to complete the legal framework of bilateral commercial and economic relations the following Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) were endorsed: MOU of between the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey and Qatar, MOU in the field of Environment, MOU between the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, and MOU of the Defence Industry.
“We appreciate that Qatar is supporting the Free Trade Agreement between the GCC countries and Turkey, though it is not finalised yet,” adds Yunt. In 2006, the Turkish-Qatari Business Association was founded to promote economic, trade and cultural relations between both nations, to represent the commercial interests of Turkish businessmen in Doha, and to increase the trade volume between Turkey and the state of Qatar.
Additionally, in 2011 the Qatar Turkey Business Forum was held in Doha, and 500 Turkish businessmen from more than 260 companies attended, led by the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Zafer Çaglayan, state minister for foreign trade said during the forum, “There is a need for increasing the volume of trade between the two countries. The bilateral trade has the potential [in the next couple of years] to reach US$10 billion (QR36.4 billion).”
Yunt explains to TheEDGE that big meetings such as the 2011 Qatar Turkish Business Forum gather both Qatari and Turkish businessmen together to interact and consult one another, listen to speeches conducted by high level authorities, and then meet and form business partnerships. “Turkey has a very good image here,” he says, “some Turkish companies are bringing industrial projects. They want to get a Qatari partner and establish a factory in every field. We also have had proposals to introduce other types of production here. It is going well, though it will take time,” says Yunt.
Yunt believes that there is a lot of potential to further improve Turkish and Qatari economic ties. “Turkish companies are expected to be awarded new projects in construction and infrastructure, and they are ready to help Qatar in those areas,” he concludes.