Turkey is among the top five countries Ireland is targeting as new markets, along with China, India, South Africa and Brazil, Irish Trade and Development Minister Joe Costello told the Daily News March 28, as arrived in Turkey to lead a two-day multi-sector trade and investment mission.
â€œChina, India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey are the countries we are looking at as central areas to expand,â€ he said. The Irish delegation includes representatives from 25 Irish companies, which are mostly active in the fields of mobile technology, pharmaceuticals, dairy equipment, software development, telecommunications, and engineering, as well as ministers and officials.
The group has meetings scheduled with six to eight large local companies, including Koc, Efes, Avea, and Suzer, according to Kevin Buckley of Enterprise Ireland, a state agency that supports Irish companies in globalizing their businesses.
Today Costello will be discussing â€œmatters relating to trade issues, in terms of agriculture, health and educationâ€ with his Turkish counterparts in the capital city of Ankara. Bilateral trade volume between Turkey and Ireland is about 1 billion euro, and Ireland is anxious to see this grow. â€œOur strategy is to double trade between Ireland and Turkey in the next five years,â€ said Buckley.
However, Costello said the trade balance is in favor of Ireland â€œby roughly 60 percent to 40,â€ adding that there are about 100 Irish companies engaged in trade with Turkey at the present time. â€œOne of the big issues on the agenda is to deal with Irish beef, in terms of access to the Turkish market. There are a lot of restrictions. Ireland is not treated in the same way other European countries are. There are more discriminatory elements in the manner in which we are treated,â€ said Costello. Restrictions were placed on the importation of Irish beef as a result of a mad cow disease outbreak twelve years ago. â€œWe would certainly be very anxious to remove those restrictions. Other countries have removed them already.â€
Education is another concern for Ireland. â€œWe have virtually no students from Turkey at all,â€ Costello said, â€œ[Ireland] is more competitive in terms of price and has a tremendous reputation in terms of education.â€ Ireland, with its expertise in wind turbines and natural gas, also wants to tap into the growing local energy sector. â€œIt is forecast that in the next 20 years Turkey will need to add 40 giga-watts of power generation capacity. We want get as much out of this as possible in the early stages,â€ said Buckley. The minister said â€œthe Celtic tigerâ€ is on the eve of a rapid recovery after the economy difficulties in recent years and Turkish companies should take advantage of this.
As for opportunities for Turkish companies to do business in Ireland, Costello said Turkish construction firms could be very active again, noting that the Irish government recently spared 2.2 billion euros in building 275 schools this year.
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