Turks compete with crisis-driven Europeans in Mozambique

An international trade fair is being held in the Mozambican capital of Maputo with the participation of 23 members of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), who are courting potential clients also on the radar of European firms who have fled economic turmoil at home.

On Monday, the International Trade Fair of Maputo (FACIM) opened its doors to visitors in the southeastern African nation, often referred to as an effective gateway into the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The fair will continue through Sunday. As a market of some 250 million people with a total gross domestic product of nearly $1 trillion, the SADC also appears to be a potentially lucrative market for European firms to expand into at a time when they face a diminishing demand for their goods and services on the crisis-hit continent. Turkish firms should likewise be looking at the SADC. “Turkish companies should be quick to not miss this ‘investment train’ here in the African market that is increasingly more diversified and saturated every year. This is because there is going to be a stiffer competition in critical fields such as agriculture, energy and construction in parallel to its strong domestic demand and stable economic growth,” TUSKON secretary-general Mustafa Gunay, who accompanied the Turkish participants at the fair in Maputo, told Today’s Zaman on the sidelines of the event. In the words of Turkey-Mozambique Businessmen Association (MOZTURK) Ahmet Mete Tiras, Turkish firms are particularly advised to do business in the fields of food, agricultural equipment, infrastructure and housing in Mozambique. Heeding such calls, Mehmet Emin Erkesim of the Akfel Group, one of the Turkish participants in this year’s fair, said they are bidding on an $80 million natural gas distribution project in the southeastern African country. According to him, they have already submitted their proposal with the Energy Ministry there and are hopeful about a successful result. For Turkish Ambassador to Maputo Aylin Tashan, the field of agriculture should be of particular importance to Turkish investors wanting to do business in Mozambique. She said only 15 percent of the country’s arable land is used for agricultural activity, in remarks she made to Today’s Zaman before the fair started on Monday. One particular area Turkish diplomats are putting effort into is securing direct Turkish Airlines (THY) flights between Turkey and Mozambique. Tashan said a positive result will appear soon. This year marked the 48th time the FACIM was held. The largest participation at last year’s gathering came from Italy and Spain as well as Portugal, the former colonizer of this region of Africa. At the recent fair, however, the number and the size of the Turkish companies that took part drew the attention of observers. The Turkish firms here met some 50,000 visitors at the 27 booths they opened. Their participation in the event was ensured by TUSKON’s fair organizer subsidiary TUSKON Evrensel. On the first day of the fair, Mozambican President Armando Emilio Guebuza also visited the Turkish booths. He said he appreciated Turkish businesspeople’s interest in exploring trade and investment opportunities in his country, adding that he wants to visit Turkey together with a business delegation upon an invitation from TUSKON. Compared to 2006, when TUSKON started its intensive work in and with Africa, the foreign trade volume between Turkey and Mozambique has increased nearly eightfold, reaching $174 million last year. The recently founded TUSKON Evrensel organized its first fair in oil-rich Angola, another former colony of Portugal, on the other side of the African continent in mid-July.

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