By Deniz Cicek
ANKARA (AA) - With Africa's share in Türkiye's foreign trade having expanded significantly in the last 20 years, trade volume with the continent is expected to reach $45 billion this year.
Türkiye hopes to diversify its export destinations towards 18 targeted African nations, including Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Libya, and Egypt, according to data from the Turkish Trade Ministry.
Last year, the country made $21.2 billion in exports to Africa, up from just $2.1 billion in 2003. This also increased the continent's share from 4.5% to 9.4% over the same period.
In the first eight months of this year, Türkiye's exports to Africa totaled $16.7 billion, with an annual increase of 28.7%.
In 2003, the Turkish Trade Ministry introduced the Development of Commercial and Economic Relations Strategy with Africa.
Since then, the country has stepped up its efforts to develop ties with Africa, such as by organizing bilateral visits more frequently.
Besides official visits, relations were cemented thanks to Türkiye-Africa partnership summits, launched in 2008, and Türkiye-Africa economy and business forums, which made their debut in 2016.
Around 4,000 business meetings took place in the third forum, which was held last year in Istanbul with participants from 45 countries.
To develop relations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in 2018, the Türkiye-ECOWAS Economy and Business Forum was held in Istanbul.
Türkiye has embassies in 43 African nations and trade consultancies in 31, while 37 African countries have embassies in Ankara.
Flag carrier Turkish Airlines, meanwhile, flies to several destinations in Africa directly.
While there are currently dozens of economy and trade agreements between Türkiye and African countries, Ankara has free trade deals with five nations on the continent, which are Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritius, and Sudan.
* Writing by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul