Fourth Turkish-Arab economy forum begins
Speaking at the opening of the Fourth Turkish-Arab Economy Forum, organized in Istanbul by Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group (AIWA) in cooperation with Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) and the Arab League with an eye towards boosting cooperation between Turkey and Arab countries and stability in the region, Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan yesterday called for improved bilateral relations and dialogue mechanisms between Turkey and the Arab League. Stating that Turkey and league members share overlapping agendas on such important issues as Iraq, the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, Lebanon and the fight against terrorism, Babacan said improving dialogue mechanisms between Turkey and the Arab world is more important than ever in view of growing bilateral ties and the situation in the region. Praising the momentum of Turkish-Arab relations in recent years, Babacan also talked about the effects of the global economic crisis on developing countries. The crisis again showed developing countries how important it is to diversify their export markets and to improve bilateral trade and financial ties between each other, Babacan said, adding that Turkey supports not only global economic cooperation but also regional collaboration. He also voiced hope that negotiations between Turkey and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) will soon end in a free trade agreement. On Turkey's efforts to cushion the impact of the crisis, he said the Turkish economy, and especially the banking industry, has managed to protect its strong, healthy structure in the face of the crisis, thanks to timely measures and structural reforms, adding that the economy is performing well despite the crisis. Pointing to how Turkey's rate of total debt stock over gross domestic product (GDP) is still one of the lowest among the world economies, Babacan asserted that this advantage will make Turkey one of the first countries to emerge from the global crisis with the least national debt. Along with 800 high-level business figures from Arab countries, also attending the opening were Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Mehdi Eker, State Minister and chief negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, and Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) head Rifat Hisarciklioglu and many Turkish businesspeople.