By Gokhan Ergocun and Yunus Turk
ISTANBUL (AA) - While investment opportunities are scarce globally, Turkey continues to be a haven for investors, said the regional manager at the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group Regional Hub in Turkey.
Turkey, which has a strategic location, regulatory business environment and developed human capacity, has very strong potential to continue growing and achieving development targets, Salah Jelassi told Anadolu Agency.
"It is really very difficult to find a place like Turkey with a strategic location," he added.
Underlining that political issues caused global crises, Jelassi said economic problems in the world affect all emerging economies, including Turkey.
"However, we believe that this situation is globally improving, and Turkey will be one of the most economically recovering countries," he said.
"We closed in 2019 with good news [of recovery], and I hope that the positive path will continue rapidly in 2020 and beyond."
The Turkish economy, which contracted in the last quarter of 2018 and the first half of 2019, showed growth in the third quarter of 2019 and is also expected to continue to expand in the last.
Many of the country's economic figures such as inflation, risk premiums interest and exchange rates recovered in the second half of 2019 after a rough year.
Asian countries have experienced economic difficulties as well, as U.S. policies created challenges for these emerging economies, he said.
The U.S.' protectionist policies cause trade wars and Asian economies, mostly based on production and exports, affected negatively from this situation.
The global tensions are expected to cost $700 billion in trade lost globally in 2020, according to a World Economic Forum report.
Expressing that Turkey has bigger potential against global trade issues, he said: "I am confident that we will witness a speedy recovery in Turkey."
- IsDB Group focuses on root causes
Jelassi noted that the IsDB Group had to adopt a new business model focusing on the root causes of the problems rather than on the symptoms.
"The IsDB Group had to go through a paradigm shift to focus on improving [the economies of] our member countries," he said.
The bank builds strategies in each country and focuses on the sectors of its member countries with the greatest economic potential.
He said these sectors mostly are textiles, automotive and construction, and Turkey has solid potential in the sectors.
- Group's work to continue with Turkey
Turning to Turkey's activities in Africa, Jelassi said Turkey was "following the right path in Africa" by developing an action plan for the continent.
Ankara launched its Africa Initiative in the early 2000s to raise economic, trade and social relations with African countries and boost the continent's structure. Turkish contractors assumed and completed thousands of projects worth around $400 billion so far.
Turkey also provides humanitarian and development aid to some African countries and opens schools and hospitals to help their residents.
"We are very grateful for Turkey, as are most of our [IsDB] member countries in Africa, and we believe that the knowhow of Turkish businesspeople will help these countries live up to their potential," he said.
The group's cooperation with Turkey will continue in the future the same, Jelassi added.
He said Turkish State Railways is the biggest partner of IsDB Group in Turkey because Turkey’s strategic position requires good infrastructure in terms of connectivity.
- SMEs to bring about export-based economy
Referring to the group's investments worth $740 million in energy in Turkey so far, Jelassi said: "We believe that renewable energy and energy efficiency are important."
He also said the IsDB Group will continue to work with Turk Exim Bank to provide good opportunities for Turkish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
"SMEs are very important in terms of growth, employment opportunities and regional development," he added.
He also noted that SMEs, especially exporting SMEs, would help pivot the Turkish economy to an export-based model.