Besides expanding bilateral trade volume, Turkey eyes more investments by South Korean companies, the Turkish trade minister said on Tuesday.

Ruhsar Pekcan was speaking at the virtual Turkey-Korea Business and Investment Meeting Forum organized by Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We expect concrete steps from Korea to develop bilateral trade ties with a win-win principle, in a balanced and sustainable manner,” she said.

Bilateral trade volume between Turkey and South Korea was around $6.7 billion in 2019, Pecan said, also pointing out the trade gap to the disadvantage of Turkey. “Trade deficit for Turkey, despite a free trade agreement (FTA), is not sustainable,” the minister said.

Stressing the importance of trade in local currencies for Turkey, Pekcan said: “We should encourage our firms to use local currencies as much as possible in bilateral trade…we are in communication with the South Korean government to reach a swap agreement in this regard.”

Yu Sung-mo, South Korea’s trade minister, said historical and emotional bonds between the two countries enrich economic cooperation. “Over 300 Korean companies are contributing to economic growth and job creation in Turkey,” he said, claiming that bilateral trade volume expanded year-on-year despite the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that despite major challenges, Ankara and Seoul are working to overcome the virus fallout. “Our economic corporation should focus both on responding to COVID-19 in short-term, and being prepared for the post-COVID era,” the minister argued.

He added that expanding cooperation from traditional manufacturing to green industries is crucial for sustainable development.

Touching upon Turkey’s goal of mass producing electric vehicles by 2023, he said Korea and Turkey can integrate their capabilities and technologies to enhance industrial competitiveness.

Nail Olpak, who heads the DEIK, called for a diversified and fruitful cooperation between the two countries to further strengthen the relations. “The FTA can serve Turkish-Korean business relations in a more balanced and mutually favorable manner,” he said.

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