Turkey entered a new structural period after the “Constitutional Amendment Referendum” carried out on April 16, 2017. While the whole world was watching Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his first overseas visit to Asia’s rising star, India after this process. This visit, which was written by the India Times Newspaper was also avidly followed by other states was the sign of a new era in the relations between the two countries. In line with this New Delhi Initiative with strategic depths, a new commercial cooperation step was taken with India, a strong country in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). With this step, Turkey once again demonstrated that it could establish strategic/stable relations with both western and Afro-Eurasian key countries. At the same time, it led to an opportunity to open new channels for export with this country with which it has current deficits. A decision was reached to develop cooperation between the two countries in the areas of nuclear energy, civil aviation, space and technology and a target was set to achieve a trade volume of 10 billion USD by 2020. After the visit, President Erdoğan made a statement saying “our priority in export in the new period are the markets of China, Mexico, Russia and India” indicating clearly that a stable and growth oriented export policy had been launched. In this respect, the fact that the Ministry of Trade placed India in the “Target Countries” (2018- 2019) list and showed that the New Delhi Initiative was not only a visit once again manifested the importance of India in its new term export strategy. Subsequently, the India-Turkey Business Forum was held in 2018 with the participation of Minister of Trade, Ruhsar Pekcan. Potential business opportunities in banking, food and agriculture were evaluated within the scope of the event. This process aimed at India, which was initiated last year and is amongst the four targeted markets, continues in 2019 as well.
TURKEY-INDIA RELATIONS IN THE NEW ERA
It is very easy to answer the question: “Why are relations with India so important in the new era?” Turkey is targeting to increase exports and market diversity and establish a balance by exporting more to countries with which there is a foreign trade deficit. Therefore, our country works to consolidate its installed capacity which is based only in certain regions as a priority. As of the end of 2017, India is the sixth largest economy in the world according to gross domestic product and has reached an economic size of about 2.6 trillion USD, making it a global player. The fact that there is a current deficit of 6 billion dollars in our trade with this country and the existence of the historical ties with the Babur-Turkic Empire constitute the reasons for India to be among the priority targets. For the development of trade relations with India, it is important that the two countries know each other better. In particular, the Turkish business world needs to understand Indian philosophy, working style and its business model well. The country has a state-centered growing economy and a well-integrated state / private sector structure. Together with its huge production and machinery factories, India also has large private companies with a budget of over 100 billion USD. In comparison to South Korea (Samsung, Hyundai), Japan (Sony, Canon) and especially China (Huawei, Alibaba), India differs from other countries with these features.
OPPORTUNITIES WAITING THE TWO COUNTRIES
When India and Turkey are compared in terms of opportunities, we see that they have many dynamics that complement one another. India’s growing middle class with a population of 200 million and increasing consumption needs is an opportunity for Turkish exporters. Furthermore, the demographic structure of the two countries has a very vibrant young population. In addition to the production superiority of India with its working population, the New Delhi management achieved a very strategic breakthrough in the global trade league, making remarkable progress in information technologies. The country with an army in the field of software practically challenges the world in terms of digital technologies. The fact that the Indian linguistic family and Turkish are the two languages best suited to the language of software is also remarkable in terms of the potential to carry commercial and technological cooperation further in this field. India’s ability to evade “a chaotic situation” that it has learnt from its history and the solution-oriented practical mind of the Turkish people can open up new opportunities when they are transferred to digital platforms. Furthermore, in terms of their approach to business development opportunities rallying to develop their resources and anti-colonialist attitudes, Turkey and India also exhibit similarities. Both countries have carried out major projects, especially in the field of energy, in line with their national needs, with systematic and strong steps, and continue to do so. While India has been developing its relations with Russia and Iran in recent years, Turkey has gone for energy diversity. Turkey has made an LNG deal with Qatar and the first gas has flowed from the TANAP (Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline) that Turkey operates jointly with Azerbaijan while the Turkish Stream Project operated in partnership with Russia is progressing rapidly. The huge project, Eurasia Tunnel that connects Europe and Asia under the sea, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, which is of great importance in terms of the Silk Road, are among major projects commissioned in Turkey in this area. Turkey and India are at a junction in terms of geopolitical and geo-economic dynamics as well as commercial approach and energy policy. On one side there is India, the starting point of the Silk Road and Spice Route, on the other hand Turkey, the intersection of these two historical paths and exit to Europe… In this sense, strategic investments can be realized. One of the cooperation potentials between the two countries is the cinema sector, which is one of the most significant export items. So much so that Bollywood, the atlas of the country’s film sector is the first name that comes to mind in many different parts of the world when India is mentioned. Likewise, Turkish TV series are a rising value in the Afro-Eurasian region. Collaborations can take place in co-production with cinema and series projects. Furthermore, Turkey and India can develop various partnerships in the areas of urban planning, logistics and tourism. India can offer many Turkish contracting companies opportunities through “100 Smart Cities”, which targets to modernize its cities with a five-year process and airports projects. As Turkey is in the position of being a production base offering goods and services at EU standards, Indian companies can benefit from Turkey as an access point into the European market. Turkey offers both quality and affordability in the area of tourism and therefore, Turkey and especially cities such as Antalya, can be a center of attraction for Indians, who prefer Thailand or Dubai for weddings.
Analyst Murat Palavar