The Saudi-Turkish Joint Commission meeting takes place in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Riyadh on Sunday for cooperation in the construction sector, said Turkish Economy Minister Zafer
The Turkish minister also called on Saudi businessmen to invest more in his country and sought Saudi help to speed up negotiations to endorse a free trade agreement with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as early as possible.
Caglayan, speaking after his talks with senior Saudi officials including Dr Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, minister of commerce and industry; Ibrahim Al-Assaf, minister of finance; and Jobara Al-Suraisry, minister of transport, said the private sector MoU in construction will encourage the two sides to forge closer ties in this field.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Turkish minister together with Saudi officials.
About 30 Turkish companies including giants such as Yuksel and Gama are active in the Kingdom.
On the subject of FTA, he called on the Kingdom \"to lobby for the speedy conclusion of the FTA with the GCC\".
“We very much value the Saudi contribution in this process because they are the engine of growth in the GCC,” said the Turkish minister in response to a question.
“I brought the issue up in meetings I have had with Saudi ministers here,” he added.
He said he had also discussed the issue of lifting visa requirements for Turkish nationals with Saudi officials.
In his speech at the joint meeting of Saudi and Turkish officials co-chaired by Al-Rabiah, Caglayan said Saudi Arabia should lift visa requirements for Turkish businessmen.
Turkey, he said, hopes to attract sizable Saudi investments in key industries and it also eyes a bigger slice in the huge multi-billion dollar Saudi infrastructure and construction projects.
Caglayan, who was accompanied by top-notch executives and representatives of almost 100 Turkish companies, said Saudi companies have $1.4 billion in investments in Turkey.
On the other hand, Turkish companies have $600 million in investments in Saudi Arabia.
He pointed out that Turkey is set to liberalize land and property sales to foreigners, including Saudis.
“The draft law is in parliament, and we will adopt it soon, allowing greater flexibility on this issue,” he added.
On the trade and investment front, the minister said the two-way trade increased 30 percent last year, reaching $4.5 billion. In the first 10 months of this year, the volume had already reached $5.1 billion, he noted.
The minister said he expects the volume to reach $6 billion in 2012, stressing that he wants to see a bigger share of Turkish products in the imports of Saudi Arabia.
In his speech in Riyadh, he said that Turkey — with a booming robust economy and stable government — is the perfect place to make long-term investments.
“That is why companies from the EU come to Turkey for investment to capitalize on the vibrant economy, utilize the young labor force and expand to third markets in our neighborhood,” he said.
Making mention of improvements in attracting foreign investment to Turkey, the minister recalled that Turkey received $10.9 billion in FDI in the first nine months of this year, more than twice the amount for the same period a year ago. One important fact was that 87 percent of international capital inflows to Turkey in the given period were from financially troubled EU countries.
Hence, he reiterated that the Kingdom and Gulf states should come forward to forge closer commercial ties with Turkey.