ADDIS ABABA (AA) – The second Ethiopian-Turkish Business Council Forum kicked off on Thursday in Addis Ababa.
“I hope this forum will result in more Turkish investments coming to Ethiopia,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the forum’s opening ceremony.
“Turkish companies investing in Ethiopia can easily regain the competitive edge,” he added.
The one-day event brings together businessmen from both Turkey and Ethiopia who will discuss means of bolstering investment relations between the two countries.
“It is a testament to the seriousness with which the government of Turkey views its rather productive relationship with Ethiopia in the areas of development and finance, investment and bilateral trade,” Desalegn said.
“Turkey is one of the most reliable development partners the government of Ethiopia has in its endeavors to extricate itself from poverty,” he said.
“There is still ample room for further expansion – in terms of volume and quality – of the development financing that the government of Turkey has been putting at our disposal [which nevertheless] has been increasing,” the prime minister added.
Desalegn went on to hail Turkish plans to double the financing extended by Turkey’s state-owned Exim bank to Ethiopia.
“I think this is a very good announcement for us,” he asserted, adding that Addis Ababa had agreed to open a branch of the bank in Ethiopia.
Turkey’s Exim bank has provided $1.4 billion to finance a massive rail project currently underway in the country.
Turkish Trade Minister Nihat Zeybekci, for his part, said his country – now the world’s 17th largest economy – had become a “major player” on the world stage.
He pointed out that Turkey’s trade volume with Ethiopia had jumped from $40 million in 2003 to some $4 billion in 2013.
Zeybekci went on to note that Turkey also hoped to establish a special economic zone that would include both Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Turkey, he stressed, viewed Ethiopia as part of the wider East and Central Africa region, which is home to some 400 million people.
Zeybekci is now scheduled to meet Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome, who once served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to Turkey, later on Thursday.