On 7 April 2016, the Turkey-Bosnia-Herzegovina Business Council Meeting cum Business Lunch was held in Ankara. The event was hosted by DEİK President Ömer Cihad Vardan and honoured by the attendance of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and the President of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdić. Other prominent participants were the Economics Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Elitaş, the Minister of Economics and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mirko Šarović, the Deputy President of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Chamber of Foreign Trade, Nemanja Vasić, and the President of the DEİK/Turkey-Bosnia-Herzegovina Business Council, Muzaffer Çelik.
In his opening address, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, deplored that despite the close social ties between the two countries, their trade had not yet reached the desired level. He expressed his hope to reach a bilateral trade volume of USD 1 billion in the very near future. He also spoke of the Free Trade Agreement whose scope needed to be renewed. Davutoğlu called upon Turkish businesspeople to invest in Bosnia-Herzegovina and help achieve the goal of a USD one billion investment portfolio in the country. He further expressed his wish to see more Turkish participation in fairs organised in the counterpart country. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, TİKA, had realised € 1 billion worth of projects in the Balkan country. Bosnia-Herzegovina will be of great importance, the Prime Minister said, once peace has been fully restored. In this context, he mentioned the cooperation potential in agriculture, tourism, energy, infrastructure and finance.
The President of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdić, emphasised the importance of long-term direct foreign investments for his country, and, in this context, mentioned the government's schedule for legal and financial reforms for a long-term change process. Currently, exports only covered 60% of imports; to boost its performance, the country was working on improving its competitiveness. Zvizdić reminded the audience that, besides EFTA and EU countries, Turkey was an important trading partner for his country, and he invited the business community to make use of its generous tax advantages. In the words of Zvizdić, his country offers the best return on investments of all Balkan countries. Projects in power stations, highways and construction were waiting for investors. The country was also looking for strategic partners in industrial investments.
DEİK President Ömer Cihad Vardan wished the country well in its progress towards NATO and EU membership. After all, Turkey's own integration process with Europe had been going on for over 50 years. He offered to share Turkey's experience with his guests, because, he said, the Turkish business community believed that once Bosnia-Herzegovina was part of NATO and the EU, the benefit for the country would be enormous. The country would at the heart of Europe, integrated in the EU and in full compliance with Europe's standards and rules; with all doubts gone and security established it would be a secure and stable society under the protective umbrella of the NATO Alliance. This is what DEİK, in its capacity as representative of the Turkish private sector, wished for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Once this was achieved Turkish investors and businesspeople would come running to invest in the country and its future. However, to achieve the USD 1 billion goal in bilateral trade will still require a lot of work, said Vardan. For this reason, his side requested a review of the Free Trade Agreement to include services as well. The current investment portfolio of Turkish companies in Bosnia-Herzegovina amounted to USD 300 million by about 80 firms. "Turkish businesses have created employment for 5,000 Bosnians", he said, "while Turkish contractors have completed 16 projects worth almost USD 500 million."