Somalia and Turkey’s trade relations have received a boost following a lengthy ministerial meeting between Somalia’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Mohamed Abdi Hayir Maareeye and his Turkish counterpart, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.

The leaders, who held talks on the sidelines of the second Turkey Africa Economic and business forum in Istanbul agreed to speed up finalization of the bilateral free trade agreement in order to increase investment between the two brotherly nations.

Somalia’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Mohamed Abdi Hayir alongside his Turkish counterpart, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.

“As you have witnessed, Somalia is a unique land for investment and we have readily available opportunities in various sectors. Turkish companies are more than just business partners: they are our brothers. We have provided a conducive business environment and we are ready to strengthen our trade”, said Minister Maareeye.Minister Maareeye, who led a delegation of dozens of Somali investors also added that there was a need to address existing minor hindrances that were affecting imports from Turkey by Somali business people.

He added that there has been an increase in Somali investors who were operating in various sectors in Turkey.

On her part, Minister Ruhsar praised the existing bilateral ties and assured the minister that Somalia remained a key ally in various areas and trade remained a priority.

She committed to fast track and facilitate government support to enable investors from both nations operate smoothly.

“We understand there is interest from our part on lemon and banana importation from Somalia, but this will be fulfilled once the ground is formally set,” she said.

Minister Maareeye reiterated the need for a joint Somali-Turkish trade exhibition to increase investment opportunities.

The minister also invited Turkish investors to the renewable energy sectors terming it a solution against environmental destruction while equally enabling Somalia to tap into its energy resources to save costs.

Puntland Region’s Trade Minister Abdiweli Hersi also attended the meeting where the area’s investment potential in fishing was also discussed.

Somalia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Ambassador Jama Mohamed Abdullahi who was part of the Somali delegation, maintained that there were positive talks with Turkish investors. He also highlighted that there were ongoing efforts to enhance networking between Somali and Turkish investors.

Somalia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Ambassador Jama (L) expresses a point.

The meeting came after the officially opening of the Turkey-Africa Economic and business forum by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

President Erdogan mentioned Somalia in his Speech where he expressed his nation’s dedication to strengthen trade ties with several African nations.

H.E President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing the forum.

“We have established our largest foreign mission in Somalia and we are planning to open our embassies in almost every country in Africa before the end of my current term,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the continent, and representing AU Chairperson Mehmet Faki, Africa Union’s Department of Economic Affairs Commissioner Prof. Victor Harison praised the relationship between Turkey and Africa.

AU’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs Prof. Victor Harison making his remarks

He however raised the need to refocus and strengthen the relationship for mutual, beneficial and sustainable partnership.

“Private sector is the cornerstone of trade and development. Embracing innovation, strengthening capacity and working hand in hand is critical for economic growth,” he finished.

The trade deals between Africa and Turkey have reached a record 20 billion US Dollars in 2017 which was a commendable rise in the last decade.

Somalia has been one of the key partners in Turkey’s investment in Africa.

The President of Foreign Economic relations board (DEIK) Nail Olpak promised more cooperation and investment in Africa.

The President of Foreign Economic relations board (DEIK) Nail Olpak during the opening ceremony.

“We will work together, and win together. Turkey and Africa are the future.” he said.

Ethiopia’s president Mulatu Teshome, Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente and representatives from nearly 50 countries are attending the second edition of the forum which was last held in November 2014.