Mediterranean countries should prefer trade collaboration: minister Pekcan

Ruhsar Pekcan, the Ministry of Commerce participated in ‘’Logistics and Trade in Mediterranean: Evaluation of Post Pandemic Circumstances’’ forum that is held within Izmir International Expo and Izmir Business Days. Pekcan stated that the traditional annual international forum is held via online conference this year due to the pandemic circumstances, she said:

‘’ We are planning to evaluate the pandemic effects on trade, Mediterranean trade and logistics within the Izmir Business Days event this year.

Mediterranean basin covers nearly 11 percent of the total global population and has a yield worth 20.4 trillion dollars; this covers the 23 percent of world economy and 35 percent of world trade. Mediterranean also has 87 ports in different sizes.’’

Pekcan emphasized that Mediterranean ports are listed among the world’s top 20 busiest ports list, she evaluated the situation by saying:

‘’ If we examine only the busiest European ports, half of the top 20 most container handling ports are Mediterranean ports. Ambarli, Mersin and Izmit ports of Turkey are listed among the most container handling European ports. Mediterranean ports contribute profoundly on world trade and global supply chains thanks to their strategical position, cargo amount and logistic capacity. There is a great potential for the improvement of this capacity; the logistic capacity will definitely be improved within the international trade collaborations. Mediterranean basin is of great importance because our major trading partners are located there and it enables us to reach distant geographies.’’

Pekcan mentioned that Turkey made a total of 82.9 billion dollars of trade with the countries bordering the Mediterranean in 2019. She said:

‘’ Mersin, Aliaga and Izmir are active ports when we evaluate the load carrying capacity. Nearly 2.3 million containers were handled only in these 3 ports in 2019. Kocaeli, Ambarli and Tekirdag ports also contribute on Mediterranean trade density.

Aegean and Mediterranean ports make Roll on-Roll off trade operations to Europe and Middle East countries; these operations have become an indispensable element of trade; their lines are an alternative transportation method and have important functions within the sustainability of foreign trade.’’

Increasing the economic integration in Mediterranean

Pekcan emphasized that bilateral trading volumes should be increased in order for logistic capacities to be improved, she said:

‘’It is of great importance that the countries in the Mediterranean basin diversify their commercial cooperation opportunities with comprehensive economic integration models and preferential trade agreement networks. The ‘Euro-Med Partnership’, also known as the Barcelona Process, to which Turkey is also a party, is an important regional economic integration project that has the aim of creating an area of ​​peace, stability and welfare in the Mediterranean region, as well as creating a Free Trade Area. Turkey is in favor of improving all the commercial and economic opportunities that have been made until today by ‘Euro-Med Partnership’; in this sense Turkey has been and will be ready to contribute. Turkey has been in relation with EU member Mediterranean countries since the Customs Union agreement with EU in 1996; Turkey also negotiated Free Trade Agreement with other Mediterranean countries. We desire to make the Free Trade Agreement with the countries that we have not negotiated yet as soon as possible and to contribute on trade integration in Mediterranean. The strengthening of economic and commercial collaborations in Mediterranean basin will benefit all the surrounding countries in this uncertain period that we have commerce wars, international protection measures, Brexit and pandemic.’’

Firm steps should be taken to facilitate transportation

Pekcan mentioned that a lot of Mediterranean ports made restrictions regarding passenger transportation in the pandemic period; yet many of them continued cargo operations and by doing so, they played an important role in the sustainability of commerce. Pekcan emphasized that Turkey accelerated the diversification efforts of foreign trade channels and routes in the pandemic period, she said:

‘’Our country will endeavour to use all alternative logistics channels in order to be better prepared for unforeseen shocks during and after the pandemic period; on the other hand, we need to take firm and mutual steps for facilitating the transportation, especially in this period. We consider that we should give importance and priority to improving electronic commerce and data transfer services at ports and border gates, as well as expanding paperless transactions. The fact that Mediterranean countries carry out digitalization of logistics studies in accord will enable transportation and other logistic operations to be carried out much faster and smoothly. Contactless trade that is applied during pandemic period and automation based digital customs infrastructure that is developed way before the pandemic give Turkey experience; we are happy to share these experiences with our trading partners. Turkey needs to develop cross-border infrastructures based on facilitation, digitalization of customs and transport. We consider that the strategic importance of the Mediterranean in terms of economy can be further increased with our joint work, and that regional trade and transportation in the Mediterranean can be developed in a way that contributes to the welfare of all countries. We need innovative cooperation steps more than ever in the pandemic period.’’

source: AA / translated by Bazaar Team

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