The Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) wants small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to do business with Turkiye in the areas of tourism, hotel, health, film and animation, logistics and transport and energy.
TTCSI president Mark Edghill said the aim is to help SMEs from both countries connect, work together and eventually realise or even increase trade figures.
He said though TT and Turkiye have had a friendly relationship for over 50 years, more can be done to boost the economies. With this in mind, Turkiye Ambassador Bengu Yigitguden reminded people that TT residents can visit Turkiye with no visa and stay for 90 days.
They were speaking at a webinar – Doing Business with Turkiye – hosted by TTCSI on Wednesday.
Edghill said, “In 2019, bilateral trade between the two countries was at US$120.8 billion. In that year, food-based exports to TT were valued at US$68.4 million while that country had imported some US$52.4 million worth of goods and services from TT.”
Yigitguden added that while the number of imports are low, trade is still continuing and it doesn’t reflect the country’s potential.
“Of course when we buy more LNG (liquefied natural gas) from TT, this figure will go up, but it’s not constant,” she said.
She added that Turkiye’s imports from other Caricom countries are even lower and something should be done about it.
In 2021, Edghill said TT’s imports stood at US$89.9 million and among the items imported were iron and steel at almost US$62 million with just under US$4 million in electrical and electronic equipment and US$4.3 million in salt, sulphur, earth, stone, plaster, lime and cement. TT’s exports were from the petrochemical sector and includes organic and inorganic chemicals, mineral fuels, oils and distillation products among others valued at US$3.12 million.
Ayhan Ozturk, commercial counsellor at the Turkiye embassy in Havana, said Turkiye has seen growth in all indicators of the macro-economy and listed reasons why businesses should invest in the country.
He said, “GDP (gross domestic product) reached US$900 billion in 2022 from US$226 billion in 2002. The liberalisation of capital and earnings of foreign creators to lend the Turkish investors contributed to a higher growing rate of private investing.”
Ozturk explained that businesses should invest because of Turkiye’s economy has been rated at the 11th largest in the world as shown by its growth between 2002 and 2022. He said with a 1.3 per cent average annual growth in exports, Turkiye has outpaced the world and created 28.8 million new jobs.
Yigitguden touched on tourism which contributes to Turkiye’s growing GDP and said for 2022, the tourism revenue was US$46.3 billion. She said the numbers are catching up to pre-pandemic times. As for hotels, she said there is 1.7 billion bed capacity – including 705 five-star hotels – and over 17,000 tourism facilities.
She also touched on the construction services of Turkiye and said it ranks second after China regarding the number of companies. She added that in 2021, the revenue of 42 companies in the country ranked seventh with US$20.4 billion.
Yigitguden added that between 1972 and 2023, some of the projects undertaken were housing, roads, tunnels and bridges, power plants, commercial centres and airports.
Ozturk added that despite the time zones coming across as a problem, Turkiye operates with companies in 16 different time zones from Tokyo to New York. He said in 2021, the country connected with 342 destinations.
Venezuelan Ambassador Alvaro Sanchez said those from TT who wanted to go Turkiye can easily take a flight to Caracas through Caribbean Airlines’ added route and take a direct flight to Turkiye.
Nusret Comert, chairman of Damus Energy and Investment, dealt with climate and sustainability issues which energy firms must address to do more business with Turkiye.
He said, “On one hand, work is needed, economic growth is needed, on the other hand, the environment needs to be protected, climate change is in effect and carbon emissions needs to be reduced.”
Comert said environment, social and corporate governance policies have also been defined as targets.
“Also the countries started to act for climate change more effectively than in the past. Last year, the world had its hottest summer ever and the concern for water is growing. Within that context, energy transition has worked all over the world in international energy and oil companies and governments,” said Comert.
He said because of this, there has been a significant transition in renewable energy more namely, wind and solar. He said energy can be a major industry for business people in TT and Turkiye to cooperate as an investor, developer and equipment supplier.
Comert said, “In TT, the banking system is very well developed and very international so that can also help in raising capital for energy investments for Turkiye and TT or other countries.”
Ozturk also described Turkiye as one of the most crowded countries for immigrants reporting there are almost ten million immigrants in the country. He said they usually have to go through an extensive training programme for integration, ease of the language barriers and to improve skills for employment in the manufacturing sector.