Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan has said his country eyes an increased investment in Bangladesh with a significant jump in bilateral trade volume through product diversification as Bangladesh's economy is growing fast.
"We see a Bangladesh which has a very bright future. Its economy is growing fast like ours. Turkish investors are keen to invest in Bangladesh as it offers attractive incentives for foreign investors," he told UNB in an interview at his office.
Ambassador Turan who came to Bangladesh just before the Covid-19 pandemic said a prominent Turkish company will invest US$ 100 million in LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) sector in Chattogram. "That will be an initial investment."
He said improving trade between the two countries, boosting investment in Bangladesh, enhancing cultural and people-to- people ties are among his priorities during his tenure in Bangladesh.
"As an envoy, there's always a desire to do something more," Ambassador Turan said, adding that he is lucky to see the positive atmosphere in place created by his predecessors to take forward the relations to a new height.
The envoy, who also served in Italy, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Austria, Afghanistan and Belgium, laid emphasis on product diversification to help grow trade between the two countries. "Our economies are growing quite fast. We're happy that our economic and trade relations are improving. We're expecting better trade volume between the two countries."
The Turkish envoy said they buy a lot of jute products from Bangladesh and will explore other areas saying the two countries can always diversify their trade.
"Bangladesh has a very strong pharmaceutical industry, growing IT industry," he said adding that agro industries, light engineering, service sector, tourism and health sector are some promising areas of cooperation.
The bilateral trade volume between the two countries is now around US$ 1 billion and the Ambassador said there is a scope to increase it further.
Ambassador Turan said: "The trade volume between the two countries in the first 10 months of the current year stood at US$754 million and the figure is the same what we had seen in the first 10 months of 2019."
"That's good news indeed! We kept the same level of trade despite the pandemic where other countries are experiencing a significant drop in their trade volumes. This year, the trade balance is in favour of Bangladesh as Bangladesh is selling a lot of jute products to Turkey," he pointed out.
Main commodities exported to Bangladesh from Turkey are raw materials, agriculture and food products, textile and agriculture machinery and textile chemicals, while Turkey imports jute yarns & twine, jute manufacturers' knitwear and readymade garments.
Talking about Turkish companies' presence in Bangladesh, the Ambassador said Turkey's leading home appliance manufacturer Arçelik bought majority shares of Singer Bangladesh and made it quite profitable.
The Turkish company thinks Singer Bangladesh's business will benefit significantly from the sale as Arçelik is a much larger and financially stronger company with a commitment to, and a worldwide reputation in the home appliance sector.
The Ambassador said the Turkish investors are interested to invest in a special economic zone as Bangladesh offers quite attractive incentives for investment.
"We're going to organise a virtual meeting among businesses of the two countries," Ambassador Turan said.
Top executives of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) and Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) of Turkey will take part in the discussion to identify areas of cooperation and explore opportunities jointly. Turkish contracting companies are also interested in mega infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.
50 Years of Independence
The Turkish Ambassador, who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey in 1992, highly appreciated Bangladesh's growth, especially the achievements made over the last 10 years saying 50 years have been quite a significant journey for Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh is progressing in a speedy way with an impressive development achieved in the last 10 years under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In the last decade, Bangladesh has become a model for many developing countries," he said.
The Turkish Ambassador said Bangladesh has got a solid foundation given by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and today Bangladesh is a much-respected nation globally.
He said Bangladesh's foreign policy - "friendship to all, malice to none", is coinciding with Turkey's foreign policy motto "peace at home, peace in the world."
The Ambassador said Bangladesh is making significant contributions to global peace through its robust engagement with the UN peacekeeping operations.
Therefore, it will be a very well-deserved celebration for Bangladesh, its people and the government of Bangladesh, he said.
Talking about Turkish presence in the mega celebrations on March 26, the Ambassador said they are looking into how the situation evolves following Covid-19 pandemic.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, while virtually inaugurating the newly-built Bangladesh Embassy complex in Ankara on September 14, invited President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan through Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen also handed over the invitation to his Turkish counterpart to visit Bangladesh.
"We'll see how the Covid-19 situation evolves in March next year. We don't know yet how the situation will be at that time," the Ambassador said.
Ambassador Turan expressed satisfaction over his discussion with a number of ministers in Bangladesh regarding cooperation between the two countries in the coming years. "I am hoping to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury soon."
Hospital to be Built
Responding to a question, the Turkish Ambassador said Turkey wants to establish a hospital in Bangladesh as it has vast experience in the health sector.
He said it is not yet decided whether the hospital will be a specialized one or a general hospital but they plan to build it in Dhaka. "That's one of the big projects in our mind. We would like to share our experience."
The Ambassador said they want to explore opportunities in medical tourism. "We provide very good health services. That's why Turkey has become one of the top five destinations for health tourism in the world. Turkey could be another destination for those Bangladeshis who go abroad for better treatment."
He also said Turkey wants to boost cultural exchanges and academic cooperation to help Turkish and Bangladeshi people learn more about each other.
"It gives me much pleasure that Turkish TV serials are becoming very popular in Bangladesh," said Ambassador Turan adding that relations between Turkish and Bengali nations have strong historical and cultural roots dating back before the foundation of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
Solidarity amid Covid-19
The Turkish Ambassador appreciated Bangladesh's efforts in dealing with the Covid-19 situation. "It's good to see that the situation is under control in Bangladesh. Bangladesh made it possible to deal with the situation in a very efficient way."
He said this is a challenging situation for all the countries due to Covid-19 pandemic and it is time to help each other. "We have to deal with it with solidarity and unity. We remain in solidarity with Bangladesh."
The Turkish envoy said upon instruction from President Erdoğan Turkish Ministry of Health provided five tonnes of medical supplies to Bangladesh including masks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators.
He said Turkey provided medical supplies to 150 countries and Bangladesh is one of those countries.