The 1st General Assembly of the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry / Turkic Union of Chambers, established to support the development of bilateral trade and investment relations between Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, was held in İstanbul hosted by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), in partnership with the Turkic Speaking Countries Cooperation Council (Turkic Council). TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu was elected as the first president of the Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
At the opening of the General Assembly, Minister of Commerce Ruhsar Pekcan, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, Secretary General of the Turkic Council Baghdad Amreyev, President of Azerbaijan Confederation of Employers Mammad Musayev, Kazakhstan Chamber of National Entrepreneurs President Ablay Myrzahhmetov and President of the Kyrgyz Republic Chamber of Commerce and Industry gave speeches.
In his speech, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu explained the establishment process of the Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry and said, “It is our duty to engender close cooperation between businessmen of our countries systematic. It would be beneficial for TOBB to handle this endeavor together with the chambers of commerce and industry of Turkish-speaking countries. Fortunately, we have realized this great project.”
Hisarcıklıoğlu reminded that they signed the founding charter of the Turkish CCI in May within the Council of Cooperation of Turkic Speaking Countries (Turkic Council). “Along with our Union, the Azerbaijan Employers’ Confederation, Kazakhstan International Entrepreneurs Chamber, Kyrgyz Republic CCI are the Chamber’s first members. Their presidents are with us today. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are not members yet. But I hope we will see them as members soon. Uzbekistan is here today. We have already prepared the Statute that we have signed so as to be open to the participation of the Turkmen and Uzbek Chambers. Thus in the first phase, the Turkic CCI will be comprised of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan. Then there may be further participation.”
Hisarcıklıoğlu said that these 6 countries mean an economic size of 1.1 trillion USD and a population of 160 million.
Stating that the Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry will start its first General Assembly, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the permanent secretariat of the Chamber will be in the TOBB Istanbul Service Building and that TOBB will provide all support for the office and staff.
- “We are ready to share our experiences”
Hisarcıklıoğlu, President of TOBB, emphasized that they will establish cooperation on a more solid foundation and make it more institutional. “We need this. For development and prosperity, the development of the private sector is essential. For a strong private sector, a strong chamber system is required. Turkey is a good example of how a strong chamber system supports and develops the private sector. We are ready to support and share our experiences in this direction.”
Hisarcıklıoğlu said that together with Kazak-ATEMEKEN, Kyrgyz, Turkmen and Uzbek Chambers, they established bilateral Chamber of Commerce and Industry Forums and will continue to share their experiences in these areas.
- Entrepreneurship is the only way for people to prosper
Pointing out that having natural resources is no longer sufficient for development, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Almost every country sees this fact and the fields other than oil / natural gas are being emphasized more. We must diversify and develop our economic structure. For this, we need to strengthen entrepreneurship by turning to industry and trade. This is the only way to make our countries and peoples prosperous.”
Emphasizing the need to increase trade volume first, Hisarcıklıoğlu said: “One of the important issues in trade is customs crossings. In our geography, land customs gates are of great importance. We are sitting on the historical Silk Road. As TOBB, we have great experience and success in renewing and operating them. without consuming a single Lira from our government, we renewed Turkey's largest 10 land border crossings. Our projects were lauded by the United Nations as a success story and cited as an example to the world. We are ready to share our experience in this field.
In Turkey, another issue we give importance to is entrepreneurship. We achieved a global success in two areas by increasing entrepreneurs and developing the private sector. We have made great progress in tourism in the last 30 years. We are among the top 6 tourism destinations in the world. In the international contracting sector, we rose to the 2nd place in the world. To date, our contractors have successfully undertaken projects with a total value of 400 billion USD in 108 countries. They became a world brand. We have seen how important it is to integrate into the global economy, open up to international trade and global competition.
In 1980, while Özal opened the country with his reforms, we supported the process as the business world. As we entered the Customs Union with the EU in the mid-1990s, we did not avoid competition with European companies. As a result, we have become one of the most important suppliers in Europe in many sectors from automotive to home appliances. After 2002, under the leadership of our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, we bravely implemented structural reforms. As a result, we became one of the fastest emerging countries from the global crisis in 2009. In the last 20 years, the international capital that has come to our country has exceeded 210 billion USD.
- “Trade is the greatest source of peace and prosperity”
Hisarcıklıoğlu reminded that the European countries, which were in ruins after the two great world wars, established economic unity among themselves and developed the trade between them, growing and prospering together.
Pointing out that trade is the greatest source of peace and prosperity, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We must first remove the trade barriers between our countries and increase trade with each other. We have to write an EU-like success story. I see the Turkic Business Council and the Turkic CCI as strategic steps that will enable us to achieve this goal. Thus, solidarity between us will increase and new opportunities for cooperation will develop. I believe that if we put our hands together, if our governments and business world works together, the Turkic world will write new success stories.”
- Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan
Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan emphasized that the establishment of the Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an important institution of the Secretariat of the Cooperation Council of the Turkic Speaking Countries is an important development.
Ruhsar Pekcan emphasized that the reason for not increasing the mutual trade is not inadmissibility, "This is because of the logistical barriers between us. As a proof of our cooperation, we need to be able to engage more, to overcome the logistical obstacles and to pave the way for our trade. We want to see the Caspian as a sea that unites us and not separates us.”
Pekcan stated that the share of Turkish Council members in the world trade volume reached 522 billion USD with an increase of 5% in 2018 and when Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are included, it reached 558.6 billion USD in 2018.
Stating that it is possible to gain a larger share of this trade by working together more, strengthening the legal infrastructure and product diversity, Pekcan said, “Although we have progress made in recent years, unfortunately it is not enough - it is time to reflect our strong ties on our trade relations. We must reflect our real potential on our relationships by increasing our mutual investments and trade.”
Stating that they should increase the number of seminars, business forums between the member countries, indicating perhaps joint trade fairs also could be held Pekcan said, “As Turkey we do not view only natural resources as points of regional cooperation. The world is undergoing a technological transformation. We give importance to education in our region as the Turkic Chamber of Commerce.”
Pekcan, referring to the plans to provide training on export support as the Ministry, said, “as soon as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to join the Turkic Council will strengthen our corporate structure.”
- “A common trade chain should unite us”
Baghdad Amreyev, Secretary General of the Council of Turkic Speaking Countries Cooperation (Turkic Council), said that today the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has come together for the opening of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and that they believe that this chamber will create an elite brand in the Turkic world.
At the Turkic Council Leaders Summit, last year, state leaders touched on the strengthening of cooperation, and Amreyev stressed that commercial relations could be improved seriously with the establishment of the joint chamber.
Amreyev stated that they are working to create new mechanisms, “We aim to undertake a number of joint endeavors. The creation of a joint investment fund and aimed for support for SMEs. With the establishment of such a fund, we will have a powerful tool.”
President of the Azerbaijan Confederation of Employers Mammad Musayev stressed that they will develop works in this chamber, “Now we are one nation over 6 states. We have a wide range of opportunities. We need to bring these together. It is very auspicious work to open the way for business.”
Ablay Myrzahhmetov, President of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan, gave information about the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs.
President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Kyrgyz Republic Marat Sharshekeev said that the Turkic-speaking countries are uniting step by step, “The first general assembly, the first secretary general election will be held today. It is easy to speak of trade, but selling is difficult. Some political and other problems can create obstacles to trade. A trade chain should unite us and eliminate the problems.”
- Hisarcıklıoğlu elected first President of the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Following the speeches, the 1st General Assembly of the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry was held. TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu was elected the first President of the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry by a joint resolution of the four founding member countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.
The Permanent Secretariat will be located in Istanbul; the Chamber will carry out its services from TOBB’s building. In addition, it was decided that one of the five delegates from each country should be a woman.