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Türkiye Aims To Reach $20 Billion In Exports To Iraq Through Development Road Project

19.04.2024 22:12

‘Project expected to positively impact exports to Iraq, logistics capacity,’ says Turkish trade minister.

Ankara aims to reach $15 billion in exports to Iraq in the near future, and $20 billion in 2030 with the completion of the landmark Development Road Project connecting the Persian Gulf with Türkiye, Omer Bolat, Türkiye's trade minister, told Anadolu.

With the project starting at the al-Faw Grand Port in Basra, Iraq one of the major topics, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 22 will make his first foreign visit following the March 31 local elections to Iraq's capital Baghdad.

The visit is expected to shape economic and trade ties between the two countries, as well as political, diplomatic, and security-related issues.

Bolat stressed that Iraq stands out in terms of its economic and trade relations with Türkiye, and that the Turkish share of exports to Iraq over the last decade has been 5% and above.

Last year Iraq was Türkiye's third-largest export destination by country, he said.

The trade volume between the two countries was at $24.2 billion in 2022, and $19.9 billion in 2023, he added.

"Exports to Iraq fell 7.2% year-on-year in 2023 to $12.8 billion, and imports from Iraq decreased 31.1% to $7.2 billion during the same period," he said.

"The foreign trade balance was in favor of Türkiye, as our foreign trade surplus was at $5.6 billion last year," he added.

Bolat said exports rose 24.5% to $3.4 billion on an annual basis in the first three months of 2024, while imports plummeted 46.2% to $835 million.

He stated three trade pacts are planned to be signed between the countries' trade ministries during Erdogan's visit.

'Project to boost exports to target countries'

Bolat said the Development Road Project aims to facilitate trade, customs, visa, and transit procedures in transportation between the Gulf countries and Europe.

He said the project is set to be built in 2025-2029, and the railroads and land roads are planned to be in operation in 2030, saying:

"For the Development Road Project, some 1,176 kilometers (731 miles) of railroads suitable for high-speed freight trains and passenger trains will be constructed, as well as 1,190 km (740 mi) of highways. The project is estimated to positively impact Turkish exports to Iraq and our logistics capacity, as the roads are planned to pass through various provinces of Iraq, the city of Al-Anbar, and the Persian Gulf."

"The project is expected to stimulate exports to the Middle East and Gulf regions, as well as Southeast Asian countries, and have a positive impact on our export figures," he added.

Bolat said the project will also influence Türkiye's exports to target countries, as it will help fulfil the greatly important Far Countries Strategy.

Eliminating security concerns in region to open new horizons to expand trade ties

On efforts to open the Ovakoy border gate between the two countries, he said: "It is clear that the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing is insufficient to meet the trade volume between Türkiye and Iraq, so negotiations with Iraqi authorities are continuing to open the Ovakoy-Fishabur border gate."

Eliminating security concerns in the region will open new horizons for the two countries to expand trade ties, which would in turn achieve important progress for the Development Road Project, Bolat said.

*Writing by Emir Yildirim in Istanbul -

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