PRETORIA, South Africa

Bilateral trade and investments between Turkey and South Africa are expected to grow as the two countries recover from the effects of the novel coronavirus, the Turkish ambassador to South Africa said.

“I am confident that bilateral investments will further improve as our economies recover in the post-COVID-19 period and as growth prospects improve,” Elif Comoglu Ulgen, Turkey’s ambassador to South Africa, said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.

Ulgen said she is hopeful that with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) becoming effective soon will further increase the investment attractiveness of South Africa to Turkish businesses in the near future.

The AfCFTA is a free trade area among 54 of the 55 African Union members. The agreement was brokered by the African Union and signed in 2018. Earlier this year, the African Union announced that the AfCFTA will be effective on Jan. 1, 2021.

“I believe that Turkish investments could improve in the coming years as South Africa is taking firm steps to increase private sector participation in the energy sector and striving to return to a sustainable growth path through major infrastructure investments,” she said.

The ambassador also said Turkish companies are already actively seeking investment opportunities in the energy sector.

Considering the proven track record of Turkish contractors in infrastructure development projects worldwide, she said she is confident that the Turkish private sector will explore opportunities for public-private partnerships in the coming period.

South Africa is one of the priority destinations for Turkish businesses, being an open economy with a well-established market and high-quality infrastructure.

Ulgen said South African and Turkish investors already have noteworthy investments in each other’s territories and that she believes there is the potential to further improve bilateral investment flows.

Turkish investments

According to Ulgen, there are already a number of Turkish investments in South Africa, with the most prominent and exemplary being that of Arcelik, a major producer and seller of white goods in Turkey.

“Arcelik owns the well-known South African [appliance] brand DEFY and makes us proud by consistently expanding its manufacturing operations in South Africa, generating employment, transferring technology, improving production capacity, and contributing to South African exports significantly,” she said.

Ulgen noted that Arcelik’s success with its investment in DEFY further attracts Turkish investors to South Africa as Arcelik’s suppliers in Turkey increasingly explore manufacturing opportunities in Africa’s most developed economy.

The Cape Town Iron and Steel Works, acquired by Turkish investors in 2012, has the potential to contribute to employment generation and minerals beneficiation goals of South Africa, the ambassador noted.

Ulgen said the Turkish defense giant Aselsan also manages its sub-Saharan Africa operations through its subsidiary in South Africa.

“We are hopeful that Aselsan South Africa, with its recently appointed Turkish management, will be functional in further improving bilateral economic cooperation to the mutual benefit of both countries,’’ she said.

Ulgen also noted there are several Turkish companies active in South Africa through their wholesale and retail trade businesses, adding that bilateral investments will further improve as economies recover in the post-COVID-19 period.

She stressed that Turkey’s major brands in retail trade are also expanding their presence in South Africa either through franchise arrangements or by directly investing in retail operations within the country.

“Throughout my term, I observed with pleasure some of Turkey’s major brands’ entry into the South African retail market such as Ramsey, Damat, LC Waikiki, Enza Home, and Dogtas,” Ulgen said.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and South Africa totaled $1.3 billion in 2019.

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