Turkish-Finnish trade target: € 2 billion
The Finland-Turkey CEO Forum was held on 6 April 2016 in the Finnish capital Helsinki. The event hosted by DEİK President Ömer Cihad Vardan, was attended by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and his colleague, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Finland, Juha Sipilä.
In his address, Prime Minister Davutoğlu defined the trade targets for the near future; for 2018 he foresaw € 2 billion, and for 2020 € 5 billion. Despite a 13% drop in bilateral trade in 2015, the first ever, the Turkish Prime Minister was optimistic of a positive development in 2016. According to Davutoğlu, the economies of Turkey and Finland are complementary, with Turkey in need of advanced technology, and Finland requiring qualified labour. In the face of growing competition in the technology sector, he was very much interested in uniting the advantages of Turkey's geographical position with Finland's high level knowhow. The Prime Minister said: "We expect more investments, because we must integrate the Turkish economy with the Finnish. Turkey has a qualified workforce, its SME are very strong, and the country is a logistics centre." Turkey could serve a springboard for joint Turkish-Finnish investments in Africa. He expressed his desire to see more Finnish companies in Turkey. He was optimistic that "once visa-free travel is agreed with the EU, cooperation between the business communities of our countries will advance."
In his speech, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Finland, Juha Sipilä, reminded the audience that diplomatic relations between Turkey and Finland in 2016 celebrated their 90th anniversary, while the agreement on economic relation was signed in the 1920s, to be followed by the opening of a Finnish Embassy in Ankara in 1941. Sipilä agreed with his Turkish colleague that the historic Turkish-Finnish relations needed to be advanced. The Finnish Prime Minister also called for an immediate updating of the Customs Union between Turkey and the European Union. Referring to the JETCO (Joint Economic and Trade Commission) mechanism that came into force in 2015, Sipilä expressed his desire to soon receive, in Helsinki, a Turkish delegation under this mechanism to which his own country attributed great importance. Sipilä also pledged his full support for Turkey's membership in the EU, pointing out that Turkey was one of the favourite tourism destination of his countrymen.
In his speech, DEİK President Ömer Cihad Vardan reminded Forum participants that Turkey's EU membership process began in Helsinki in 1999. Praising the host country for its excellent education system and its R&D investments, which, he said, were closely monitored by the whole world, he referred to Finland as an important and historic partner in Turkey's EU relations of more than 50 years. It was during the term of Olli Rehn as Commissioner of EU Enlargement that most chapters were opened in Turkey-EU membership negotiations. Rehn's position as Economics Minister in the Sipilä cabinet was a great advantage. However, despite the support, the journey that began in Helsinki had not yet been crowned with Turkey's membership. Vardan expressed his expectation to develop bilateral ties in parallel with the EU membership process. "Over the last ten years," he said, Finnish companies have invested USD 400 million in Turkey", a figure, Vardan qualified as insufficient but nonetheless important. Now it was time to find new cooperation opportunities between the two developed economies. "The next step will be forums in Ankara and Istanbul organised with FinPro", the DEİK President said.