CHAIRMAN OF THE INTERNATIONAL TURKISH UKRAINIAN BUSINESS ASSOCIATION (TUID)
Ukraine 2021 I Ukraine & Turkey Special I Leader
BIOGRAPHY He led Turkonfed International, the largest Turkish Business Association Network abroad, present in more than 70 countries. He has been elected as regional executive board member of World Turkish Business Council from Ukraine at Foreign Economic Relations Board in 2016. He is the founder of the Engineering and Equipment Supply Company Politek Impex and Renewable Energy Company Inventerra.
“WE AS THE TURKISH BUSINESS COMMUNITY, ARE AWARE OF THIS AND WE BELIEVE IN THE BRIGHT FUTURE OF UKRAINE AND ITS PEOPLE AND WE CONTINUE OUR INVESTMENTS WITHOUT ANY SLOWDOWN.”
TURKEY HAS BECOME THE BIGGEST INVESTOR COUNTRY IN UKRAINE IN 2020, CEMENTING A SUCCESSFUL HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BOTH COUNTRIES. WHAT WERE THE MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2020/21 AND YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR 2022?
In recent years, we have already had a golden age in the political, economic, and trade relations of Turkey and Ukraine, even the pandemic could not prevent further development of the relations between the two countries. We have witnessed an increase in state visits, Presidents of the two countries have visited each other and the Turkey-Ukraine Business Forum, which was held in Kyiv in February 2020. Our association provided a significant contribution, which was honored by the presidents of the two countries and it has been the bilateral business forum with the highest attendance rate in Ukraine’s history, with the attendance of more than 800 business persons.
Ukrainian leadership, giving great priority to the insufficient and outworn infrastructure of the country, has moved forward significantly in the last two years, in highway and bridge constructions, among the areas of infrastructure which touch the lives of ordinary people. By the Great Construction move of President Zelensky, last year 5,500 kilometers of new roads have been constructed and the target this year, is to renovate 6,800 kilometers of roads and 150 bridges.
These investments vitalize the economy and facilitate communication and transportation between the cities, support trade, and internal tourism. Turkish firms which have 44 representative firms among the biggest 250 construction companies of the world, which are located close to Ukraine geographically and which contributed to Ukraine’s infrastructure and superstructure since the 90s, by more than 200 construction projects exceeding US$ 7 billion. They have provided the biggest contribution, among foreign construction companies, for the large construction move. Thereby, in 2020, Ukraine has been the 2nd country where Turkish construction companies have undertaken the highest number of construction works abroad. This trend shall continue in 2021 and afterwards. In 2020, the year when foreign capital stock decreased in Ukraine, Turkey has been the biggest foreign capital investor in the country, by the Turkish investments worth about US$ 400 million. At the moment, Turkish investments in the country exceed US$ 4 billion and the number of Turkish firms operating in Ukraine reached 700. The renewable energy sector is, in a sense, the star sector in which Turkish investments are the most expressive in the country in recent years with over US$ 400 million and a further US$ 200 million expected in 2021. In addition to energy, we can project that in the agriculture, technology, retail, and infrastructure sectors, through public-private sector partnerships, Turkish investments in the country will increase in 2021 and afterward.
Tourism is another promising sector with more than 1 million Ukrainian tourists visiting Turkey in 2020. If compared to the same period in 2019, from 1 July, when tourism season started in Turkey in 2020, until 31 December, there has been an increase only in the number of tourists from Ukraine who visited Turkey, among the member countries of the United Nations. Likewise, by 149,000 persons, Turkey has ranked the first in the number of foreign tourists who visited Ukraine by airways in 2020; and in the 2nd and 3rd ranks, there have been, respectively, the Germans with 74,000 tourists and Americans with 55,000 tourists. We can say that both countries have provided lifeline support for each other during the pandemic period. As of today, the number of flights by Turkish Airlines, the Turkish national flag carrier, is even higher than in 2019. In 2021, Turkey will again be the country that will be visited the most by Ukrainian tourists. I believe that a new record will be reached in the number of tourists and more than one and a half million Ukrainian tourists will visit Turkey in 2021.
THE TURKEY-UKRAINE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (FTA) IS SET TO TRANSFORM THE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL FOR BOTH COUNTRIES. WHAT WOULD BE THE SECTORS WHICH WOULD RECEIVE MORE INVESTMENTS AND OTHER BENEFITS?
There is no reason for not signing this year the FTA, negotiations of which have started in 2007 and which shall at least provide to double mutual investment and trade between the two countries and which shall consolidate the position of our countries as strategic partners and render this partnership sustainable. Turkish investments in Ukraine - which are mainly in the services industry, telecommunications, energy, and construction - have been the industries, in which investments have been made until today. Upon signing of the FTA, we will see, in Ukraine, many Turkish firms, which conduct operations in the industry sector in Ukraine, which export the goods produced by them in Ukraine, to everywhere in the world. I remember when visas were removed between Turkey and Ukraine, many relevant parties objected arguing that this may cause unemployment in our countries. Indeed, we have altogether observed that said decisions, which could be considered brave steps in the circumstances of those days, have opened the way for other opportunities for 10 years, have contributed positively for convergence of the two countries and wealth of their people. By the FTA, a similar success shall be experienced in trade and investments. The integration of the Turkish and Ukrainian economies by the FTA, will have deeper and sustainable relations which will benefit not only the two countries but all countries in the region.
“TURKISH FIRMS WHICH HAVE 44
REPRESENTATIVE FIRMS AMONG THE
BIGGEST 250 CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES
OF THE WORLD, WHICH ARE LOCATED CLOSE TO UKRAINE GEOGRAPHICALLY AND
WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO UKRAINE’S
SUPERSTRUCTURE SINCE THE 90S,
BY MORE THAN 200 CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS EXCEEDING US$ 7 BILLION.”
THE TURKISH BUSINESS COMMUNITY, WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF TURKEY AND TUID, HAS OFFERED MUCH-NEEDED HELP TO UKRAINE DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC. HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE KINDS OF EFFORTS FOR YOU?
The priority target of a business association established abroad, is, while creating value for its members, maintaining also activities that shall promote trade and investments between the business worlds of the countries represented by them. And, we as TUID, have put efforts to achieve this during the epidemic, both in digital and hybrid environments and to the extent possible, physically. I am, at the same time, the chairman of Türkonfed International, which brings together the Turkish business associations located in 70 countries such as Germany, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Argentine, Thailand. I can mention that the total increase in the number of the members of our associations in other countries in 2020, could not reach the increase in the number of our members in Ukraine; in this situation, the most significant sector, undoubtedly, has been the supreme level that the relations between Turkey and Ukraine have reached and the opportunity to travel without any problem, relatively, between the two countries. However, in addition to the business and trade activities, we are also obliged to conduct works, to the extent of our capabilities in the fields of culture, arts, sports and social responsibility projects. As a business association, we have responsibilities to the country where we are located, and as business persons, to the country where we live. In this context, during the pandemic, under the auspices of our Embassy, by the 7 branches of our association throughout Ukraine and in 12 different regions of Ukraine, by the support and under the coordination of the governorships and relevant state authorities, we have organized the biggest social responsibility projects realized in a coordinated manner by a country’s business community, in Ukraine’s history, and we have provided foodstuff and hygiene materials to the people in need of them. Additionally, in the last year, we have supported and we are trying to support events which shall bring two countries further closer, in the fields of bale, painting, and sculpture.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON UKRAINE’S ECONOMIC POTENTIAL?
First of all, especially after EuroMaidan happened in 2014, we have observed a great reformation and transformation in Ukraine. The leadership of the country and the people are aware that change is not a choice but a must. Significant distance has been covered in conducting and implementing structural reforms. In the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business Index”, in 10 years, Ukraine has been increased from the 157th rank to 64th rank. To rise and reach the welfare level it deserves, Ukraine has the necessary physical and human capital. And, the low level of basis value makes the country attractive for investments. Everything is ready for takeoff by Ukraine, which is a country located in the geographical center of Europe, which has the most precious soil on earth, which, by its hundreds of thousands of engineers and programmers, hosts one of the world’s largest software and technology communities. I think there is no other more convenient time to invest in Ukraine. And, we as the Turkish business community, are aware of this and we believe in the bright future of Ukraine and its people and we continue our investments without any slowdown.