Posted by meb at June 17th, 2008

A record number of high-level bureaucrats, government ministers and businessmen from Turkey and Asia-Pacific countries will gather today to celebrate the official opening of the Turkey-Asia Pacific Foreign Trade Bridge 2 at Ä°stanbul’s WOW Convention Center.

Organized by the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) and supported by Turkey’s Foreign Trade Undersecretariat and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the summit will mark the occasion of growing business relations between Asian countries and Turkey in recent years.

“Developments over the past 10 years have resulted in a gradual shift in the center of the global economy toward the Asia-Pacific region,” said Foreign Trade Minister KürÅŸad Tüzmen in his article published in today’s edition of the paper. He added: “The main goal of the Asia-Pacific Countries Strategy is to increase our export volume to the region from $2 billion in 2004 to $8 billion by 2010,” also noting: “We have seen positive results since the beginning of 2005, thanks to our trade development activities in combination with political will. Our exports to the region reached $3 billion in 2006 and approached $4 billion at the end of 2007.”

TUSKON Chairman Rıza Nur Meral said, “What we observe in commercial relations between Turkey and the Asia-Pacific countries is an increasing trade volume.” He lamented the trade level’s current volume, saying, “The share of Asia-Pacific nations in Turkey’s $260 billion foreign trade volume is only 13 percent — far from the actual potential.” Meral emphasized, however, that TUSKON “believes in the potential of increasing trade between Turkey and the Asia-Pacific region.”

TUSKON ran its first trial on opening up strategy to Pacific and Asian markets in April 2006 with the Foreign Trade Bridge program for the Asia-Pacific region. The result exceeded all expectations, with the participation of 12 ministers, 60 senior officials and 228 businessmen. It resulted in 8,000 bilateral trade meetings and achieved a trade volume of $500 million. Realizing the great potential, TUSKON officials immediately moved to take advantage of this opportunity, organizing the “Turkey-Eurasia Trade Bridge” in December 2007. This time, the number of bilateral meetings and trade volume increased to 13,500 and $1.5 billion, respectively.

With today’s program, TUSKON aims to attract 420 foreign companies from 22 Asia-Pacific countries, who will realize almost 20,000 bilateral business meetings with 2,000 Turkish businessmen. Though it is not required to participate, Turkish businesses can set up booths and pavilions to showcase their items if they so wish. Meral suggests that with trade fairs like this, his organization aims to turn Turkish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into import and export companies. “We bring buyers to our businessmen so that they can exchange trade with partners from the Asia-Pacific,” Meral told Today’s Zaman at the first summit.

TUSKON officials tell us that they have gone out of their way to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. They have provided for a welcome desk right at the airport to greet their guests to the Trade Bridge fair. They will also provide native interpreters free of charge to participants.

For the duration of the event, TUSKON representatives have been assigned to each country to help visitors with the event, accommodation, transportation and more, with most of the costs being borne by TUSKON. There is no entrance or application fee for international participants; the only expenses that visitors need to cover are airfare and accommodation in Ä°stanbul. All other expenses, including food, city transportation, domestic flights, factory site visits, lunch and dinner, are covered by TUSKON.

Guests will also participate in on-site visits of factories and technology centers to familiarize them with Turkey’s industrial base. Other cities are also on the itinerary, with the aim of showing visitors the full spectrum of what Turkey has to offer them in terms of trade opportunities.

Organizers made business transactions easier for everyone by setting up a computerized system that automatically matches African businessmen with their Turkish counterparts. Prospective clients need only enter their detailed information into a database when registering for the event, and they get to choose the time and place of a meeting from options presented to them by a centralized information system. After that, all they need to do is wait at their table for the next meeting client to show up. In addition to scheduled meetings, visitors may also promote their business and company information by advertising on plasma screens inside the hall. This allows for great exposure for purchase and sale offers on the floor.
source: Today’s Zaman