Turkey, Saudi Arabia hopeful for further cooperation
Turkey and Saudi Arabia may reach a $20 billion foreign trade volume in the medium term, according to Industry and Trade Minister Nihat Ergun. Meeting in Jeddah on Saturday with Saudi businessmen who control some $300 billion in capital, Ergun urged that cooperation and partnership among Middle Eastern countries be strengthened. "Turkey has been working to develop good relations with all the countries of the world, and especially with neighboring countries," he said. "In the last eight years we've built our relations with our neighbors on an understanding of 'zero problems, maximum cooperation'." Stressing that big countries such as Turkey and the Saudi Arabia should build relations that are an example for other countries, Ergun said, "But our economic ties fall short. Our bilateral trade rose from $1.3 billion in 2002 to just $4.6 billion last year." "We believe we may reach $20 billion in bilateral foreign trade in the medium term," Ergun said. "The problem rises from the lack of strong platforms bringing together our businesspeople." Saudi Arabia imports machinery, food products, chemicals, motor vehicles and textile products from China, Japan and the US, yet these are key Turkish exports, Ergun said. "We should generate solutions, if the problem arises from a lack of communication, red tape, or some other artificial reasons." "We can develop more cooperation in fields such as finance, tourism, communications and agriculture," Ergun said. "I also believe that Turkish construction companies will take more projects in Saudi Arabia." Turkey lacks rich oil and natural gas reserves, Ergun said, so it has to produce and export to enrich itself.