The Republic of Turkey has joined the ever growing COMESA family by appointing a Special Representative to the regional economic group. His Excellency Ahmet Erda, the Ambassador of Turkey to Zambia presented his Letters of Credence to Secretary-General, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, in Lusaka on 06 July 2012.
The development earmarks the beginning of direct cooperation between COMESA and the Government of Turkey.
Ambassador Erda said his government is committed to further deepen relations with African countries by bringing in investors who will continue utilizing skilled labour found locally. He revealed that Turkish investors are also transferring skills by training local staff in the various countries that they have invested in.
In welcoming Ambassador Erda, Mr Ngwenya said Africa is in need of foreign direct investment and valuable lessons can be learnt from Turkey given that after years of low levels of FDI, that country attracted US $22 billion in FDI in 2007 alone.
He called for Turkey-COMESA cooperation in strategic areas of industrial and infrastructure development, science and technology; agriculture and food security.
“We expect to get the opportunity to discuss more about all other potential areas of cooperation with the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency,” Ngwenya said.
He added that trade between Turkey and Africa currently stands at US $15.7 billion compared to US $6.2 billion between Turkey and COMESA in 2011. Africa’s exports to Turkey were at US $9.3 billion and the imports were US $6.4 billion in the same year. COMESA’s exports to Turkey were US $1.5 billion and the imports were at US$4.7 billion.
The exports from COMESA were mainly petroleum, urea, carbon, polyethylene, cotton yarn, methanol among others while the imports were semi finished products of iron/non alloy steel, Portland cement, bars and rods of iron and petroleum oils.
COMESA has nineteen Member States whose primary goal is enhancing cooperation for sustainable, balanced and inclusive economic growth and development with an ultimate objective of uplifting the standards of living of its people. Its combined population is 450 million people with a GDP of about US $500 million.