Turkey’s Foreign Policy Vision Encompasses All Of Africa

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Written by Dana Sanchez

More than 100 Turkish investors, exporters and other business people are touring West Africa with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has broadened Turkey’s foreign policy vision to encompass all of Africa, DailySabah reported.

They’re starting in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and they’ll also visit Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea.

This will be the first time a Turkish president has visited Ivory Coast and Guinea, according to a statement from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), HurriyetDailyNews reported.

Abidjan is the commercial capital of the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union — Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The country grew at an average rate of 9 percent since its 2011 crisis,  triggered after a presidential election.

Turkey’s exports to Cote d’Ivoire — the world’s biggest cocoa producer —  increased in the last 10 years. Turkish exports are still about double the amount Cote d’Ivoire exports to Turkey.

The two countries agreed to boost their bilateral trade volume to $1 billion by 2020, according to Esra Demir, Turkey’s ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire. “I think we are on track because we recorded an increase of about 17 percent in our trade volume from $330 million (at the end of 2014) to $390 million (at the end of 2015),” Demir said.

Turkish construction company İnci Group built a concrete plant in the Attakube region four kilometers from the center of Abidjan. With $10 million in investments, the concrete plant has an annual capacity of  40 percent of the total demand of the Cote d’Ivoire market.

The plant is expected to be launched with a ceremony attended by Erdoğan. Turkey’s First Lady, Emine Erdoğan, plans to open a school for visually impaired children built by the Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency.

A foreign investor can set up a company in Cote d’Ivoire within 72 hours, said Faman Toure, vice chairman of Cote d’Ivoire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a DailySabah interview. The country needs investment in transportation, infrastructure, housing and tourism.

Some of the items on Erdoğan’s agenda in Cote d’Ivoire include easing regulatory procedures for investors. Similar agreements are also expected to be signed in Accra and Abuja Tuesday and Wednesday, DailySabah reported.

Erdoğan visited Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia in 2015, according to HurriyetDailyNews.

The country has more than tripled its African embassies since 2009. Its largest embassy in the world is in Somalia. Turkish Airlines has dozens of destinations in Africa.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and sub-Saharan countries increased tenfold since 2000, according to the Foreign Ministry. Trade between Turkey and all of Africa was worth $23.4 billion in 2014.