'Turkey, Arab world can cooperate, prosper together'


Turkey's development minister on Thursday urged Arab countries to make mutual investments with his country for the benefit of everyone involved.

"We don't say, 'We produce and you buy.' Let's establish companies together," Lutfi Elvan told the Turkish-Arab Economy Summit in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Mersin.

"Come from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Lebanon and other countries and let's work with Turkish firms and let's win and boost our welfare. Let's produce and market and win together."

Elvan said he believes the summit will help cement friendship among countries, as Turkish and Arab communities have strong social, cultural, religious and economic ties.

"In 2002, around 400,000 tourists from Arab countries came to Turkey. In 2016, there were more than 2.5 million. In 2002 Turkey's total exports to Arab countries were $3.2 billion, but in 2016 they totaled $29.4 billion," he said

Similarly, he added, Turkey's imports from Arab countries ballooned from $1.5 billion in 2002 to $10.5 billion in 2016.

Elvan also said Turkey's economy showed the best growth performance worldwide in the third quarter of 2017 with 11.1 percent.

"Remember that several media organs abroad started a defamation campaign against Turkey after the July 15 coup attempt," he said, referring to a defeated coup in 2016.

"They said Turkey's economy would collapse and wouldn't grow in 2016."

He added, "We showed a growth performance of 3.2 percent despite the coup attempt."

The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Elvan said that Turkey grew by 7.4 percent in the last three quarters of 2017, nearly on par with China and India.

Islamic union' proposal

Seventeen countries attended the summit, including Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Libya, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Elvan emphasized that Turkish and Arab countries should strengthen their economic and trade relations to the level of their ties of friendship.

Turkey and Yemen enjoy strong ties, Mohammed Abdul Wahid al-Maitimi, Yemen's industry and trade minister, told the gathering.

"Turkey is a powerful country and it strongly supports the Yemeni legal government and Yemeni people during their difficult times."

Over 150 Yemeni businesspeople visited Turkey to develop economic relations, he stated.

Turkey is a safe country which investors trust, said Ahmad Al Ajadi, chairman of the Al Ajaji Group.

The Arabic world could benefit from Turkey's international trade ties, he added.

The Arab world is a huge economic power and Turkey has strong ties in the region, said Canan Sunay, chair of the Turkish-Arab Countries Businessmen Association (TURAB).

She said the summit would propose an "Islamic union" project, adding: "Just like the European Union, an Islamic Union could eliminate customs and visa requirements."

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