Turkey applauds Africa’s Free Trade Area AgreementSecond Turkey-Africa Business Forum this October

WINDHOEK Turkey's Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has applauded Africa's effort to increasingly operate as a cohesive unit, particularly in the form of the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which he described as a critical milestone that will shape the future of Africa. Namibia recently indicated that it is ready to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) which will grant it access to the continent's 1.5 billion people and the African market currently valued at nearly N$50 trillion with a total Gross Domestic Product of US$2.46 billion.

In a statement to commemorate Africa Day on May 25, Cavusoglu noted that Africa has the aspiration to take strides across all Sustainable Development Goals, which include not only eliminating absolute poverty, but also reducing inequality, offering a wealth of valuable education opportunities to all and reinforcing good governance as the norm.

Our interest to Africa is concretised by intensified political contacts at the highest level. President Erdogan paid official visits to 26 African countries since his Prime Ministry term. These visits opened new venues of cooperation. The multitude of agreements signed show that Turkey is committed to opening new areas of collaboration with African countries. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of our strategic partnership with the African Union (AU). Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting high-level AU officials and African Foreign Ministers in Istanbul as part of a Ministerial Conference that reviewed our institutional cooperation. We set new targets for a more productive relationship. As a first step, we will organise the Second Turkey-Africa Business Forum this October in Istanbul. Next year, we will also hold the Third Turkey-Africa Summit. We attach great importance to this Summit and will work to guarantee its success, Cavusoglu stated.

Turkey's trade with the African continent now exceeds US$20 billion dollars, which represents nearly a fivefold increase compared to 2003. According to Cavusoglu, this increase in trade with the continent also shows that both Africa and Turkey are benefiting from an equitable trade relationship. We recognise the important role played by the Regional Economic Communities in the future of Africa. In that sense, last February we organised the first Turkey-ECOWAS Economic and Business Forum with the aim of deepening the economic partnership between Turkey and ECOWAS members, said Cavusoglu.

He further noted that Turkey's outreach towards Africa has been built on visible, tangible and mutually beneficial foundations, with Turkey now being represented on the continent with 41 embassies, with the latest opening of embassies in Sierra Leone and the Equatorial Guinea. This number is expected to reach 50 embassies in medium-term with the ultimate target of being represented in every African country.

Our approach to Africa is based on transparent, long-termed and strategic partnership. We are confident that this partnership promises a bright future to Turkey and to our partners in Africa. As I mark the Africa Day with joy, I underline Turkey's commitment to our partnership with Africa based on the principles of equality, partnership, solidarity, sustainability and mutual respect, Cavusoglu concluded.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia