By Tuba Sahin
PORTO, Portugal (AA) - The trade volume between Turkey and Portugal can top $5 billion if the countries cooperate in their areas of influence, a Turkish business leader told Anadolu Agency.
Ozer Oz, head of the Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEIK) Turkey-Portugal Business Council, stressed that the current bilateral trade volume falls well short of its potential as well as both sides’ targets.
“We should try something new to boost the bilateral trade volume with Portugal such as focusing on Portuguese-speaking countries,” Oz underlined.
Turkey should be chosen as a production hub rather than Far Eastern countries, he suggested.
He highlighted that Portugal can have a great advantage by cooperating with Turkish companies in the Turkic countries, such as those in Central Asia.
“We’re talking about a potential which can’t top $5 billion if we don’t cooperate in third countries or high technology,” Oz explained.
He added that Portugal’s mining sector, and especially its lithium reserves, is getting more attention from the Turkish companies.
- Golden Visas
Speaking about the Golden Visa scheme Portugal offers for citizenship, Oz said Turkish Jews who have easier access to Portuguese citizenship will also help build a bridge between the two countries.
“There are almost 2,000 applications that are being processed. This will also add momentum to our ties,” Oz stressed.
Besides, Turkish citizens were among the top three largest golden visa holders from Portugal with 385 people since the scheme was launched in 2012. Portugal received more than €5 billion ($5.4 billion) of investment from the golden visa scheme and granted visas to 8,288 people.
Lale Ulker, Turkey’s ambassador in Lisbon, pointed to the positive trend of trade and economic ties between the two countries.
“Over the last 15 years, our bilateral trade volume shot up fourfold,” she said.
Ulker added that Turkey posted a foreign trade surplus of $407 million with Portugal last year.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the trade volume between the two countries rose 1.8% year-on-year to hit $1.8 billion in 2018.
Turkey ranks 17th in Portugal’s exports and 13th in its imports, she noted.
Among Turkey’s top export sectors in trade with Portugal are the automotive industry, iron and steel, and textile products.
- Growing interest
Ulker highlighted that fresh and frozen fish exports showed a significant rise in recent years.
Portugal's main export groups to Turkey are paper and paperboard, chemicals, electric machines and devices, road vehicle equipment, garments, and shoes, she said.
She stressed that Turkish companies are showing rising interest in Portugal and have started claiming a considerable share of the Portuguese economy.
Ulker highlighted that since 2015, Yilport, a subsidiary of Turkish conglomerate Yildirim Holding, has been operating seven Portuguese ports.
“Yilport’s acquisition of Portuguese port operator Tertir in 2015 is the largest foreign investment in the country,” she added.
Ulker said the Lisbon cruise terminal is being operated by another Turkish conglomerate, Global Port, as it won the auction with an international consortium under a 35-year build-operate-transfer model.
"In 2018, Turkey's Oyak Cimento bought the operations in the country of Cimpor, the most important Portuguese cement producer, and Cabo Verde," she added.
Noting that Turkish giants, such as Esan Eczacibasi, are doing mining research, and Krea Gayrimenkul and DAP Yapi are carrying out real estate projects in the country, she said:
"Apart from prominent ones, some 17 smaller Turkish companies in the field of agriculture, food, tourism, and pharmacy operate in various regions of Portugal."
Likewise, the number of Portuguese companies doing business in Turkey reached 75 as of this January from just 15 in 2017, Ulker underlined.
"Portugal has invested in Turkey's sectors of information technology, telecommunications, sports equipment, clothing and shoes, paper and wood, consultancy, software, renewable energy, engineering, and storage," she said.