By Hassan Isilow
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Trade volume between Turkey and Kenya has steadily risen at least 30% in the past five years, according to Turkey’s ambassador to Kenya.
“Our volume of trade is increasing steadily every year which is very encouraging and we would like to increase our economic relations even further on a win-win basis," Ahmet Cemil Miroglu said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Monday.
Miroglu said although Turkey first established diplomatic ties with Kenya late 1967 and opened an embassy in 1968, the bilateral relations gained momentum following high-level visits over a decade ago.
In 2009, Turkey's then-President Abdullah Gul visited Kenya and his counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta responded by visiting Turkey in 2014. Kenyatta was the first Kenyan president to visit Turkey.
In 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also visited Kenya where he signed several deals to improve business and political relations.
“During the 2016 meeting between our two leaders they set a target of $1 billion as their projected volume of trade," Miroglu said.
He said the volume of trade has since impressively continued to rise over the years, despite the high target. In 2018, the volume of trade between Kenya and Turkey was $227 million and in 2019, it was $235 million.
The volume of trade between the two friendly nations tripled from $52 million in 2005 to more than $140 million in 2015, added the ambassador.
Some of the goods Turkey exports to Kenya include household appliances, processed foods, construction materials and iron among others, while Kenya exports mainly agricultural products to Turkey including coffee, tea, and fresh fruits, Miroglu stressed.
Turkey enjoys good bilateral relations with Kenya, he said, adding: ‘’We have always regarded Kenya as a reliable partner and a strong actor within the East African region."
- Turkish Airlines
Miroglu said the number of daily flights of Turkish Airlines from the Kenyan capital Nairobi to the Turkish metropolitan city of Istanbul has improved bilateral trade relations as well as relations between the peoples of the two countries.
Turkish Airlines has five flights a week from Kenya's coastal touristic city of Mombasa to Istanbul.
It also operates a cargo plane five times weekly from Kenya, which has improved trade and connectivity.
Miroglu also said the government encourages Turkish companies to come and invest in Kenya to create jobs and boost the local economy.
Some Turkish shoe manufacturers, clothing and furniture stores opened shops in Kenya, he added.
Also, some members of the Turkish private sector are in contact with their Kenyan counterparts to discuss contribution areas such as the construction, health, manufacturing and food security sectors which are the Kenyan government's four main priorities.
Miroglu stressed Turkey currently offers scholarships to Kenyan students wishing to study at Turkish universities, and hundreds of students have benefited from the Turkish government scholarship since it was established nearly a decade ago.
Each year, there is also a steady number of Kenyan tourists and traders visiting Turkey, as well as Turkish tourists and traders visiting Kenya.
Miroglu also said his office has been talking to his Kenyan counterparts over the threat posed by Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) -- the terror group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey -- which runs some schools in Kenya.
“During our interactions and meetings with our Kenyan counterparts we always ask them to help us end FETO activities in Kenya, such as transferring FETO schools to Turkish authorities," he stressed.
Miroglu added that during their meetings they always explain to their Kenyan counterparts that FETO is not just a threat to Turkey but also a threat to all countries where they operate.
"We always explain to them that FETO is capable of using similar methods they used in attempting to a coup in Turkey in any other country,’’ he warned.
"Our interactions with our counterparts are still ongoing," the Turkish ambassador said.