Turkish industrial leaders call for trade increase with Israel

FEDERATION OF ISRAELI Chambers of Commerce board member Amnon Dotan (left) and Turkish Exporters Assembly chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi sign a memorandum of understanding for economic collaboration in Tel Aviv 16.5.2017... (photo by Courtesy)
FEDERATION OF ISRAELI Chambers of Commerce board member Amnon Dotan (left) and Turkish Exporters Assembly chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi sign a memorandum of understanding for economic collaboration in Tel Aviv 16.5.2017... (photo by Courtesy)
Turkish exporters have called for a tripling of trade volume between the two countries in the next five years.

(JPost) -- After a very successful first quarter of 2017 – in which Turkish exports to Israel increased by 20% and Israeli exports to Turkey rose by 45% – Buyukeksi expressed confidence that Israeli-Turkish trade volume could grow from today’s $3.9 billion to $10b. within five years.


By combining their distinct and complementary areas of expertise, Israeli and Turkish business leaders can not only increase trade, but also fuel increasingly positive political relations, he explained.

Buyukeksi was speaking with the Post while in Israel with the biggest Turkish business delegation to visit in the past decade. Joining the TIM chairman were some 120 Turkish entrepreneurs and executives, who arrived in Israel to meet with potential business partners and learn about collaboration opportunities.

Their visit was coordinated by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, the Israel-Turkey Chamber of Commerce, the Manufacturers Association, the Israel Export Institute, the Israeli and Turkish foreign ministries and the Turkish Embassy in Israel.

“We believe our two countries have some complementary advantages that can be beneficial for both sides,” Buyukeksi said.

“Turkey has a big and young population, where industry is also very important. From the Israeli side, there are the hi-tech, innovative, breakthrough projects in entrepreneurship, and they are all complementary.”

Not only should Israeli and Turkish business people be selling their goods to one another, they should also be initiating joint ventures in third-party countries, according to Buyukeksi.

“We believe that we have a huge potential together, and we also believe that international relations are optimized by means of business,” he said.

All in all, the volume of trade between Israel and Turkey in 2016 was $3.9b., a 6% decrease compared to $4.1b. in 2015, according to the federation. Exports from Israel to Turkey in 2016 decreased by 24% from 2015, falling from $1.7b. to $1.3b., while imports from Turkey to Israel increased by 6%, growing from $2.4b. to $2.6b.

In addition to attending the Israel-Turkey Business Forum in Tel Aviv, Israeli and Turkish companies participated in a series of B2B meetings and visited the Weizmann Institute of Science on Tuesday.

That morning, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and TIM signed a memorandum of understanding for economic collaborations.

Even with the recent years of political frigidity that plagued Israeli-Turkish relations, entrepreneurs from the two countries conducted business as normal, Buyukeksi stressed.

“Actually, in the last five or six years we have increased our mutual trade potential,” he said Mouneer Agbariya, consul for economic affairs at the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, echoed Buyukeksi’s sentiments, noting that even in the peak of the political crisis, the private sectors in each country were working together.

Although government collaborations were frozen, bilateral trade was able to reach $5b. in 2014, he explained.

Today, as relations continue to thaw, a joint industrial research and development agreement between the two countries is resurfacing, Agbariya said.

“Now we are reviving it and exploring ways we can cooperate in technological advancements and share with our Turkish friends,” he added. “But when the political environment is more comfortable, the chances to do wider business will be much more.”

Some particular areas in which Turkish companies are seeking Israeli partners and expertise are the defense, medical, software and smart mobility industries, Buyukeksi said.