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President Erdoğan visits South America, hails stronger trade ties 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accompanied by a large delegation of ministers, high-ranking government officials and businesspeople, went on an official visit to Chile, Peru and Ecuador with the intent of forging stronger trade and investment ties with a continent far from the country’s traditional sphere of influence.

His second official visit to the Latin America in a year, President Erdoğan met the leaders of the three countries and attended several business-related events and organizations to strengthen relations with an increasingly important region.

In Chile, the first country in South America to have signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Turkey, President Erdoğan talked about Turkey’s increasing presence in South America and the Caribbean. “The number of our diplomatic missions in South America has risen to 13 last year, up from 2009’s 6. We will continue opening new embassies in this continent,” Erdoğan said at the Turkish-Chilean Business Forum also attended by Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet.

Speaking of his country’s aim to boost trade with South America, Turkey’s President said that Chile’s role in that regard was crucial. “I believe Turkey and Chile have the potential to reach USD 1 billion of trade volume in the short term. Turkey’s developing industry and increasing need for natural resources will reflect on our trade relations,” Erdoğan said, calling on to businesspeople from both countries to increase investments and cooperate in joint projects. Turkey and Chile reached a bilateral trade volume of USD 472 million in 2015.

At his second stop, Peru, President Erdoğan participated a business forum with his Peruvian counterpart Ollanta Humala, stating that the recent opening of a trade mission in the country raised the expectations of tighter bilateral trade ties. “By developing cooperation in many fields, we are also fostering economic relations,” Erdoğan said, drawing attention to the projects undertaken by Turkish contractors in the region as well as the increasing number of flights by the Turkish Airlines to Latin American destinations.

In Ecuador, President Erdoğan’s last stop in the continent, he called on for the rapid finalization of the Trade Agreement for Development negotiations, a framework deal signed in 2011 that will boost bilateral trade to higher levels. “Turkish contractors are ready to undertake projects in Ecuador,” he said, at a joint press conference with Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa Delgado, drawing attention to their international expertise.

A series of agreements were signed during Erdoğan’s visit to Latin America, covering economic cooperation, technical assistance, infrastructure development and other topics.
The trade between Turkey and Latin American countries reached almost USD 9 billion in 2014, rising 15-fold over the last 15 years. Turkey is in FTA negotiations with Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, aiming to reach a trade volume of USD 20 billion with Latin America by 2023, the Republic’s centennial.

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