by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) has sent out a strong message that China will further open up its markets, Turkey's Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The expo, held in Shanghai on Nov. 5-10, was also a "clear reflection of China's new development strategy," Pekcan said in the written interview.
"We are very proud to see the strong participation of Turkish companies from many different sectors at the CIIE, which is a clear reflection of China's new development strategy, namely increasing consumption and imports," the minister said.
Pekcan said that Turkish companies brought a wide range of products to the expo where they were greeted with open arms.
These products included agricultural and industrial products with high quality and fair prices, such as dried fruits, hazelnut, olive oil, milk products, beverages, herbal cosmetic, jewelry, electronic appliances, cleaning products, auto spare parts, generators, financial software as well as services products, such as tourism, she said.
The minister expressed her satisfaction with the contracts signed by Turkish suppliers and Chinese companies during the CIIE. The Turkish delegation was led by deputy Trade Minister Gonca Isik Yilmaz Batur.
"The CIIE was a platform to bolster the existing awareness towards Turkish products in China, and I can frankly share with you the positive feedback from the participating companies regarding their contact with Chinese business people," Pekcan noted.
"We are pleased to announce that we have already started our preparatory work for a stronger participation to the second session of CIIE next year," she said.
At the same time, the minister expressed the hope that more work would be done to resolve the unbalance in the trade between Turkey and China.
China was the biggest exporter to Turkey as its exports reaching 23.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, while Turkey was China's 54th supplier with 2.9 billion dollars in exports, according to official figures.
"Turkey's aim is to achieve a balance in its bilateral trade with China and encourage our business circles to do business and investment both in China and Turkey," Pekcan said.
In recent years, Turkey and China have deepened their political, economic and cultural cooperation, with Ankara supporting Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative while Chinese investments in Turkish companies continue to increase.
In this context, the Turkish minister called on China to increase its investment in Turkey, which is struggling to overcome the hardship amid an economic slowdown after the currency turmoil this summer.
China's worldwide direct investments surpassed 120 billion dollars in 2017, but Turkey's share of them was below 1 billion dollars, according to official statistics.
Turkey wants to see more Chinese companies investing in Turkey, said Pekcan.
Asked about the future of the China-Turkey trade cooperation at a time when the United States has imposed heavy tariffs on imports from foreign countries including China and Turkey, Pekcan said that she believes that the China-Turkey bilateral commercial and economic ties will not be affected and will continue on its course.
The minister also highlighted the need to have more interactions between the two countries in the fields of tourism, civil aviation and entertainment, noting that Turkey has already become a hub for medical tourism in the region.
China declared 2018 as "Turkey Tourism Year," a move that has boosted the cooperation between travel agencies from the two countries.
Citing that Turkey has close cooperation with the European Union as a candidate country and they have a Customs Union Agreement, Pekcan said that this is an opportunity for Chinese investors to use Turkey as a production hub for their targeted markets in the EU.