Mustafa Sentop, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The UAE and Turkey are expected to sign new agreements and “renew previous commitments” during the forthcoming visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the UAE next month, a senior Turkish official said.

“Our President’s visit to the UAE is currently confirmed and the preparations are ongoing. This is going to be a testament to the improved ties between our countries,” Mustafa Sentop, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) in an exclusive interview today.

“We believe that the leaders of Turkey and the UAE standing next to each other will deliver an important message on its own. The objective is to further strengthen the bilateral relations. There are mutual efforts to conclude new agreements and to renew previous commitments to cover a wider range in our current cooperation,” he added, without specifying the potential agreements to be signed.

$10 billion investment fund

The Speaker of the Turkish Parliament met Saqr Ghobash, the Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. They discussed developing parliamentary relations between the two countries.

Sentop’s visit comes two months after His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, had met Erdogan in Ankara. During the visit, the UAE announced setting up a $10 billion (Dh36.78 billion) investment fund in Turkey.

“Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed’s visit to Turkey was an important step in carrying forward our relationship to a new level. Cooperation agreements were signed on important matters,” Sentop said. Our goal is to [strengthen] the cooperation between Turkey and the UAE in the fields of climate change, energy, water and food security, in addition to health, agriculture, logistics, infrastructure, finance and tourism. I believe that both parties are ready to set new targets for further investments and cooperation.

‘Prosperity and stability of region’

“Turkey attaches great importance to the cooperation with the UAE. We believe that strengthening our relations will not only contribute to our mutual interests, but also to the prosperity and stability of our region. I believe that our counterparts in the UAE share the same view in terms of contributing together to the regional stability and peace.”

The UAE is Turkey’s top trading partner among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Bilateral trade between the two countries in 2020 had reached $8 billion. The Turkish official said the trade in the first ten months of 2021 had amounted to $6.4 billion. “The UAE is also an important investor in Turkey and ranks second among the GCC countries,” he explained, adding that the country has “significant investments” in tourism, banking as well as ports and retail.

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, said UAE was looking to double or triple its trade volume with Turkey by capitalising on its logistical ties with the rest of the world.

‘Reflecting our potential’

Sentop believes that the current volume of bilateral trade is “still far from reflecting our potential”. However, he revealed that, “to date,” Turkish contractors have undertaken 141 projects worth $13 billion in the UAE, adding, “Our companies have been investing in and are part of the UAE market for over ten years. Turkish investments [in the UAE] amount to $720 million.”

“In the coming years, we wish to increase our investment share in the UAE in the fields of logistics, finance, renewable energy and infrastructure.”

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The latest agreement between the two countries was signed last. The Turkish and Emirati central banks had agreed to a nearly $5 billion swap deal in local currencies. “We believe that [with] the visit of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, to Turkey, as well as the visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the UAE, which is planned in February, the positive momentum in the relations between our countries will be elevated and there will be further development to our economic relations,” the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament affirmed.

“With the agreements reached during these visits, I believe that mutual investments between our countries will enhance rapidly in the coming period.”