|(Standing L to R) – DTI Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, Philippine-Turkey Business Council President Ernesto Chua, Turkey-Philippines Business Council Chairman Ilkem Sahin, Turkish Ministry of Economy Deputy Undersecretary Husnu Dilemre
(Seated L to R) – PH Ambassador to Turkey H.E. Maria Rowena Mendoza-Sanchez, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Turkey’s National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli
ANKARA – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez led a delegation to Turkey to convene the first Philippine (PH)-Turkey Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (JCETC) as well as the signing of Summary of Discussions covering trade, investment promotions, and economic cooperation on 5-6 February 2018.
“The Philippines is committed to pursue several growth opportunities by strengthening partnerships with emerging economic partners like Turkey,” said Sec. Lopez.
The PH trade chief and his JCETC counterpart, Turkey’s National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, who is the Minister designated to represent their government in this meeting, discussed various areas of trade and investment cooperation on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); manufacturing such as textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, agri-processing for mango, coconut, banana; hotels and tourism; infrastructure; air services; customs; energy; science and technology; education; standardization; film and creatives; defense; contracting and consultancy services.
They offer to buy products PH can export to Turkey and shall venture with Filipino partners to manufacture the needed products, such as in textiles and pharmaceuticals. They also offer to provide interest-free financial assistance for any project critical to the country’s development as well as security cooperation.
The meeting also involved dialogues on the ongoing government efforts in rebuilding Marawi and how Turkey, as a pre-dominantly Muslim country, can assist PH on its programs and projects. It included discussions on how Islamic financing can be utilized for those MSMEs affected by the siege. They will study the industries that can be put up in Mindanao and can generate more jobs for the people in Marawi.
Both officials also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Investment Promotion by PH Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and the Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT) President Arda Ermut.
The MOU covered the intention of both parties to exchange best practices as well as information on investment environment and opportunities. Likewise, it encourages local companies to set up and expand their businesses in the partner country.
In 2016, Turkey was PH’s 45th trading partner, 45th export market, and 43th import supplier. In 2017 (covering January-November), total trade between two countries hit a significant increase with USD 163 million.
“Engaging with Turkey is in line with the thrust of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to engage with non-traditional trading partners to reinvigorate ties and increase trade between both countries,” said Sec. Lopez.
The trade chief cited current PH exports to Turkey are still confined mostly to desiccated coconut, personal care products, electronics, and tires. These areas are expected to expand with the renewal of economic ties between the two governments and the direct networking among the private sector business delegates. Several business complementations were identified such as in textiles, tourism, pharmaceutical, and infrastructure development.
“During our discussions, we noticed that there are opportunities for our Philippine exporters—whether manufactured goods or services—to further tap the Turkish market,” he added.
The Turkish market comprises more than 80 million people, with per capita income twice of PH’s, and an 11.1% GDP growth posted during the 3rd quarter of 2017.
Meanwhile, an MOU on the enhancement of cooperation in agriculture—plant production and protection; animal farming, health, and breeding; fisheries and aquaculture; food industry; research; rural development; irrigation and extension service; as well as promotion of joint ventures between private sectors—was signed by PH Ambassador to Turkey Maria Rowena Sanchez and Minister Nurettin Canikli.
At the sidelines of the JCETC meetings, DTI met with PH and Turkish business officials through a forum with the Turkish Contractors Association (TCA). Sec. Lopez encouraged Turkish companies to join the PH growth story and partner with the country through infrastructure projects, including President Duterte’s “Build Build Build” program.
The meeting was arranged by the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC), the Philippine Embassy in Ankara, and the Turkish Ministry of Economy.
The Trade Secretary attended as well a roundtable discussion with the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey or the Dış Ekonomik İlişkiler Kurulu (DEİK), a leading business organization based in Istanbul. Currently, the organization is represented by 94 founding institutions, 136 bilateral business councils, 5 sector-specific business councils, and 2 special purpose business councils. There will be an immediate Turkey business and investment mission to the Philippines on March this year.
Also at the roundtable discussion were Philippine-Turkey Business Council Chair Ernesto Chua Co Kiong and his counterpart from the Turkish-Philippine Business Council, Mr. Ilkem Sahin. Both expressed optimism on the future economic relations between the two countries.
Sec. Lopez likewise met with other Turkish companies interested in doing business in the country, such as IS Holding and Elginkan.
IS Holding is keen on having ventures in PH involving low cost mass housing, energy, shipyard development as well as film and content production. Meanwhile, Elginkan expressed their interest to expand its operations in Southeast Asia particularly in the Philippines as their potential manufacturing hub in the region.♦