Turkish delegation in town searching for business opportunities, tie-ups means BUSINESS

MANILA - Companies from Turkey plan to invest in the Philippines’ food, energy and pharmaceutical sectors as well as participate in the Aquino administration's public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

Ernesto Chua Co Kiong, Philippine-Turkey Business Council president, told reporters on Monday that a Turkish company plans to put up an ice cream factory in Metro Manila, while some food and pharmaceutical companies want to establish factories at the Clark Freeport Zone.

Chua said these Turkish firms target to serve the Philippine market before venturing into exports.

“That’s what they [Turkish investors] foresee. The Philippines would be their hub for export to Southeast Asia,” Chua said on the sidelines of a business forum and business matching session between Filipino and Turkish businessmen in Taguig City.

Representatives of more than 25 Turkish companies engaged in construction, food, logistics, manufacturing, retail and tourism are here to look for potential Filipino business partners or distributors of their products. Some have also indicated tapping the Philippines as a source of raw materials.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Turkish Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc and the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON) organized the business matching session.

TUSKON is Turkey’s biggest business organization, with membership of 45,000 businessmen and 120,000 companies from seven federations and 172 associations.

TUSKON chairman Ahmet Altintas said the Philippines has a big potential as a trade partner as well as investment destination.

“The Philippines has 100 million people. It is close to China and other Asian countries. It has a fast developing economy. The Philippines has a lot to offer,” Altintas said.

He said the two-way trade between the Philippines and Turkey of $286 million last year was “far below potential.”

“Through partnerships [between Turkish and Filipino businessmen], our construction, agriculture, food and service sectors have great potential to grow rapidly,” he said, adding that the distance between the two countries should not be a deterrent to closer trade and investment ties.

Turkey as well presents opportunities to Filipino businessmen looking at doing business there. “Turkey has a very strategic location; it is in the middle of Europe and Asia,” Altintas said.

Hatice Pinak Isik, Turkey’s Ambassador to the Philippines, said their country’s population of over 70 million is a huge market amid a robust economy.

Isik noted that Turkey is the world’s16th largest economy, and the 6th biggest in the European Union (EU). “Turkey is a manufacturing country. Turkey offers trade and investment opportunities for Philippine businessmen,” she said.

Altintas said manufacturing in Turkey is cheaper because labor costs are lower compared with other EU members. The country also enjoys tax-free trade with the whole of EU.