Address By The President Of The Portuguese Republic At The Closing Session Of The Economic Seminar “portugal-turkey” - Istanbul, 14 May 2009

Lizbon Büyükelçiliği 14.05.2009

Ministers and Secretaries of State,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Mister President of DEIK, (Foreign Economic Relations Board – Mr. M. Rifat Hisarciklioglu),
Mister President of AICEP,
Madam President of TUSIAD (Turkish Industrialists` and Businessmen’s Association – Mrs Arzuhan Dogan Yalcindag),
Entrepreneurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by welcoming your presence here and addressing a special word of thanks to DEIK and AICEP for the organization of this economic Seminar and for the bilateral entrepreneurial meetings which will follow.

The excellence of political ties between Portugal and Turkey as well as the complementarities between our countries economies create numerous opportunities for entrepreneurial cooperation and for the development of new businesses and investments.

In the six years following the 2001 crisis, the Turkish economy grew at an approximate annual average rate of 7 percent. Such a remarkable performance was based upon an effective management of macroeconomic policies, a clear investment in the modernization of the public administration and the banking system, as well as a programme of privatizations and market liberalization.

The present economic and financial crisis which affects us all has, inevitably, placed restrictions on this route. Despite the 2008 results and the estimates for 2009, the Turkish economy has shown a good deal of resilience.

“A Political and economic bridge” between two continents, an interface of Arab world and Central and Eastern European markets, an essential trading platform for the transport and distribution of merchandise and hydrocarbons, Turkey is a country of enormous geo-strategic importance.

Accommodating several cultural and religious realities Turkey is also a “bridge between cultures”, projecting tolerance, stability and security beyond its borders by means of its example and of a prestigious foreign policy. As we well know, peace and stability are crucial conditions to build open and creative societies and healthy economies.

Regarding the European Union it is a unique case of political and economic integration. It now has 27 member States and approximately 500 million consumers. Although it accounts for approximately 7 percent of the world population, the European Union is responsible for one fifth of global exports and imports and for more than half the international tourist flows.

The Euro, launched in 1999, is now an important international currency and Portugal, with a modern economy fully integrated in the European Union, shares it with 15 other European countries.

The Portuguese economy comprises a great diversity of industrial, business and service activities. Many of our main companies, some of which are represented here, operate in diversified sectors of the global market and look forward to the possibility of expanding into Turkey and, in cooperation with their local counterparts, into neighbouring countries.

Our traditional products, such as textiles and clothing, shoes and ceramics still hold a strong share of international markets. However, our economy has been showing a greater degree of diversification, based on products with a growing technological content.

We have a new generation of companies, with entrepreneurial, innovatory and technological capacity. Many are developing products and services for new segments of the world market: in electronics, in information technologies, in the field of renewable energies, in the pharmaceutical industry, in the development of software applications as well as in the structuring of new tourism products.

Trade relations between Turkey and Portugal, in spite of some positive developments in the past few years, still fall short of their possibilities (2008: €224 millions in exports to Turkey and €366 millions in imports).

In tourism - where both countries are very strong receiving areas - we are still faced with unjustified low levels of bilateral flows, of operational interdependency and of reciprocal investment. To change this scenario we should intensify the exchange of experiences and promote a more comprehensive dialogue between those operating in this sector.

In entrepreneurial cooperation and investment, however, there are examples of several Portuguese companies with significant projects in Turkey. I must point out, in this context, CIMPOR’s recent investment, one of the largest non-financially based ever carried out in Turkey (€710 million).

The setting up of platforms of economic cooperation directed at third country markets should be carefully considered by entrepreneurs from both countries.

Portugal maintains historic and privileged relations in several corners of the world, especially in Africa and South America, where Portuguese-speaking countries such as Angola, Mozambique and Brazil hold very strong political, economic and cultural ties with Portugal.

Turkey on its side is a nation with excellent access to the majority of the countries in its region and privileged contacts with countries in the Persian Gulf and in the Caucasus.

The Entrepreneurial Delegation that accompanies includes some of the best and most modern Portuguese companies. All of them showed great interest in finding partners and in working with Turkey. All are companies operating in key areas for the balanced and sustainable growth of our economies such as renewable energies, information technologies and process management, public works and cement production, new finishing materials, pharmaceutical industry, plant and equipment, and tourism.

I strongly encourage the Turkish companies represented here to work with their Portuguese counterparts in identifying and developing common projects.

I am particularly impressed with the enterprising spirit and motivation which I have found in the Turkish entrepreneurial environment.

I firmly believe that the conditions exist to achieve the positive results we all wish for, thus allowing our economic and entrepreneurial relationship to move to a higher level, closer to its full potential, more in accordance with our excellent political relationship.

Thank you very much.

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