BY DANIEL IDONOR
ANKARA, TURKEY—AS the Chairman of the Group of Eight Developing Countries, D-8, and Nigeria’s President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, leads a 14-man delegation to Turkey on a 2-day visit, the volume of trade between the two countries is expected to hit over $2 billion US dollar (about N330 billion).
Current trade volume between the duo stands at a little over $1.3 billion, but this is expected to rise by about 60 per cent as President Jonathan signs a Bilateral Trade Agreement, BTA, with the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Tayyip Endogan, Tuesday, in the country’s capital, Ankara.
This was to be followed by a business summit between the organised private sector, OPS, from both countries, in the Turkish commercial capital, Istanbul.
Businessmen and women from the two countries had met in Abuja to fine tuned preparations for the Istanbul business parley as a follow up to the Turkey Export Product Fair which was staged last year in Lagos by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture, NACCMA.
Nigeria’s main imports from Turkey currently are clothes, food, engine, automobile parts, pharmaceutical and more, while exports include sesame seeds, raw and semi-processed leather and rubber.
While Nigeria hopes to expand her trade and business with Turkey in different sectors of the economy, including mining, textiles, oil, food security, the Turkish authorities want to increase its investment in Nigeria, particularly in energy and construction.
The Nigerian OPS also wants the Turkey government, which currently maintains an Embassy in Abuja, to open a Visa issuance and related matters office in Lagos, to ease the difficulty in procuring visa.
Nigeria’s Minister of Commerce, Ms Josephine Tapgun, will lead Nigeria’s OPS to the business forum, while the Turkish Minister for Foreign Trade, Zafer Caglayan, heads his country’s OPS to the business round-table, which is expected to culminate into the establishment of Nigerian- Turkey Chamber of Commerce, capable of fostering bilateral relationship between both countries.
The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Ali Rifat Koksal, said Turkey would continue to sustain the existing relationship with Nigeria, pledging Turkish’s support for Nigeria in areas such as agricultural development, irrigation, energy and education, among others.
President Jonathan’s, state visit to the Islamic but EU country, which begins Tuesday, the first of its kind ever by the Nigerian leader to any country, is a follow up to a similar one by the Turkish President, Mr. Abdullah Gul, to Nigeria on July 7 last year, which coincided with the hosting of the D-8 meeting by Nigeria in Abuja.
Both leaders had scheduled a trade meeting between both countries last September but could not hold due to inadequate preparations by the duo.
The visit will afford President Jonathan the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the D-8 in Istanbul in his capacity as the current Chairman of the world economic group.
The Istanbul-based D-8 groups has Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, with a total population of 930 million, as members.
Beside being the current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African Countries, ECOWAS, President Jonathan also holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council.
Turkish President, Mr. Abdullah Gul, said during his visit to Nigeria that his country was eager to improve and increase economic bilateral relations with Nigeria, being the fastest growing economy in sub-Saharan Africa.
There are currently some 5,000 Nigerians, including students, resident in both Turkey and Cyprus, a tiny European nation and a colony of the Turkish government.
A former Minister of State, Alhaji Ahmed Abdulhameed, is Nigeria’s ambassador to Turkey.