Türkiye-Africa IV Business and Economic Forum is an important platform to strengthen cooperation between the two countries

Türkiye’s relations with Africa, which started with the “Africa Opening Plan” announced in 1998, progressed at an increasing pace after 2003 with the “Strategy for the Development of Trade and Economic Relations with Africa” prepared under the leadership of our President. In 2005, Türkiye became a member of the African Union and in 2008, it was granted the status of strategic partner. As a result of all these developments, today our country has ‘Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreements’ with 48 African countries, ‘Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments Agreements’ with 32 countries, ‘Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements’ with 16 countries, and ‘Free Trade Agreements’ with 5 African countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritius, Sudan).

Türkiye-Africa Business and Economic Forum (TABEF) has been organized since 2016 to improve bilateral trade and economic relations with Africa. The Türkiye-Africa IV Business and Economic Forum, which we organize jointly with African countries and has now become a tradition, was held on October 12-13, 2023 with the presence of our President. Discussing Hardships, Paving the Way for Opportunities: Over 4500 people from 54 African countries, including 1 Head of State, Ministers of 24 African countries and 3900 Business People, attended the IV. TABEF, which was organized with the “Building Stronger Türkiye-Africa Economic Partnerships” theme.

During the forum, African and Turkish business people came together and had the opportunity to evaluate mutual investment and trade opportunities through B2B meetings. Participants had the opportunity to listen to the valuable opinions of the panelists in the panels organized within the framework of the main issues on the economic agenda of Africa and Türkiye. In this context, issues that will increase mutual cooperation were discussed by experts in the panels of ‘Infrastructure Investment Opportunities’, ‘Cooperation in the Field of Agricultural Industry and Food Security’, ‘Developing Digital Technologies Ecosystem’, ‘Opportunities and Benefits in Free Zones’, ‘Health Technologies’, ‘Defense and Aviation Technologies’, ‘Trade Finance and Banking Relations’ and ‘Türkiye-Africa Women Leaders Dialogue’.

In addition, Nigeria, Uganda, Gambia, and Zimbabwe made country presentations about their countries and the investment and business opportunities in their countries. The impact of the opening to Africa, which was initiated by our country in 2003 and has been enriched over time, on our trade and economic relations with the continent has been reflected positively in the data. In 2013, imports from Africa accounted for 2.3 percent of our total imports, while this figure rose to 2.6 percent by the end of 2022.

Our exports increased from 14.5 billion dollars in 2013 to 23.6 billion dollars by the end of 2022. Thus, in 10 years, our foreign trade with the region increased from 21.5 billion dollars to over 33 billion dollars. I think the volume of foreign trade will exceed 50 billion dollars in the shortest time. While our relations with North Africa used to be more intense due to its geographical proximity, today we have important commercial and economic relations with all of Africa. Of course, our relations with African countries do not only remain at the trade level. Investors, especially our contracting sector, are undertaking important projects in Africa.

On one hand, our African students are starting to prefer Turkish universities more and more, on the other hand, our African friends are benefiting from the facilities of our modern hospitals. In addition, Turkish TV series are watched on African television. In other words, it is possible to say that beyond trade, our relations in the field of service trade, especially in education and health, have come to the forefront.

We are at a time when the rules of global trade are being rewritten due to pandemics and wars. Efforts to increase the continent’s internal integration on the one hand, and to become more integrated into global trade on the other, are increasing new investment and cooperation opportunities on the continent. In the coming period, our cooperation with Africa, which harbors both challenges and opportunities, will continue within the framework of the win-win principle. In this context, our cooperation with African countries will increase in many areas such as infrastructure investments that the continent needs, green transformation, energy transformation, and food security, which are necessary to transition to a green and environmentally friendly economic system. TABEF will continue to be an important platform to strengthen this cooperation.