Uganda sees economic cooperation with Turkey as the key allowing for the country's rise in the region, urging Turkish businesspeople to invest in the East African country.
“I would like to encourage Turkish businesspeople to come to Uganda and invest here in manufacturing and production. We need to take more steps and solidify our collaboration,” said Amelia Kyambadde, Ugandan minister for trade and industry, in a talk with Today's Zaman at the sidelines of the Turkey-Uganda Trade and Investment Forum on Thursday.
Turkish businesspeople, in cooperation with the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) -- Turkey's largest business advocacy group that is well-known across the world for invigorating small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) -- the Uganda-Turkey Business Association (UTBA) and Marmara Federation of Business Life Associations (MARİFED), with support from the Ugandan government, were on a four-day visit that started last Wednesday to the Ugandan capital of Kampala to discuss synergic business opportunities that will serve to the development of bilateral economic relations between Turkey and Uganda.
Noting that the Turkish-Uganda business forum has been a success for both countries, Kyambadde said she considered it proof of already established collaboration between Turkey and Uganda. Mentioning Turkish-Uganda business agreements that were made at the end of 2010, Kyambadde expressed her belief that cooperation between the two countries' businesses will help those agreements to be fully implemented. “We are sure that with the implementation of the agreements, we will be able to increase trade between the countries, especially investments, and decrease the trade deficit [in Uganda],” Kyambadde said, urging Turkish businesspeople to benefit from Uganda's economic potential and business opportunities by producing goods in the country.
Turkish businessmen began making contacts in Uganda at the end of 2010, when Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç paid an official visit to the country to discuss commercial ties between the two nations.
During the April 25-29 visit, 30 Turkish businesspeople from 24 companies operating in various fields had the chance to meet Ugandan businesspeople to exchange ideas on investment opportunities as well as commercial ties. A total of 402 Ugandan companies participated in the forum.
During the forum, various governmental organizations, including Uganda's Ministry of Agriculture, Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as its Investment Authority, informed the Turkish businesspeople about the opportunities Uganda offers to foreign investors.
Addressing the forum, TUSKON Secretary-General Mustafa Günay said Turkey, which might be considered a country geographically far from Uganda, is definitely not distant from the East African country and its people, adding that the tête-à-tête meeting of businesspeople and further cooperation in different economic fields will bring the two nations closer and contribute to both bilateral relations and cooperation in international platforms. “I strongly believe that this event bringing together two brother countries will upgrade relations and contribute to the world mosaic with peace, wealth and prosperity,” he said.
Turkey-Uganda relations are on the rise both socially and economically as part of Turkey's outreach to African countries to support stability and security, and possibly help mediate in the region to fix issues such as poverty. High-level visits, forums, investment and trade delegations between the countries are broadening each country's knowledge of the other. At this point, with the support of the Ugandan and Turkish government and institutions, organized business events encourage businesspeople from both countries to get to know each other and jumpstart their mutual win-win trade relations and investments.
Günay called on Ugandan businesspeople to not make the mistake of underestimating the potential of doing trade with Turkey based on the countries' physical distance from each other. “There has been a reasonable accumulation of manufacturing and international trade expertise in our country. Turkey has a good amount of experience in doing business in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Eurasia. Therefore, Turkey and Turkish businesspeople are not only potential export and import partners, but also good allies for Ugandan companies who are interested in expanding their businesses in Uganda and elsewhere,” Günay said.
Speaking to Today's Zaman following the forum, Günay said Turkey sees Uganda as one of the most important emerging countries in Africa. “It is obvious that our countries will prosper together. But I believe a higher level of cooperation between Turkey and Uganda will help us to generate much better performance.”
Turkish Ambassador to Uganda Melih Ulueren, who also participated in the forum, said Turkey in a way resembles Uganda. “They are both at the crossroads in their regions. Turkey is a hub country, and Uganda is an export hub for East and Southern Africa.” He underlined that there is vast potential for both countries to develop their economic power in their regions, saying that Turkey has already utilized this potential, becoming a rising power in the Middle East.