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Erdoğan’s impending Iraq visit sparks business community’s interest

The Turkish business community appears to be widely focused on the outcomes of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s upcoming visit to Iraq, expected to shape relations not only in terms of political, diplomatic and security issues but also in its economic dimensions.

Halit Acar, chairperson of the Türkiye-Iraq Business Council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), said in his interview with Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday that Iraq stands among the countries with which Türkiye conducts the most trade, mentioning that trade volume exceeded $20 billion last year.

He also highlighted that Iraq holds significant potential for various investments, particularly in construction.

After a pause due to local elections, President Erdoğan is set to engage in high-profile diplomatic meetings this month and May and apart from Iraq, he is also set to visit the United States.

Emphasizing Iraq’s status as a country undergoing reconstruction with diverse needs across different sectors, Acar said, “Türkiye holds a reliable position as a trading partner for Iraq, not only due to our longstanding neighborly relations but also due to our ability to provide quality and rapid solutions in all fields.”

“Therefore, our current trade and investment volume represent just the visible tip of the iceberg. As the DEIK Türkiye-Iraq Business Council, we are committed to further enhancing the existing potential and improving relations between the two countries in the future,” he noted.

Furthermore, he stressed the significance of Erdoğan’s impending visit to Iraq, which comes after over a decade and said, “It is evident that the strategic agendas of the Republic of Türkiye, as well as those of our president, will be on the table.”

“Any potential commercial agreement to be signed between the two friendly and neighboring countries will be pleasing as it will provide new opportunities for Turkish businesspeople,” he added.

Highlighting that Turkish businesspeople are highly motivated and competent to fulfill every need of Iraq, whether it is tourism, agriculture, technology or construction, Acar said he believed that many critical agreements would be signed during this visit.

“Thanks to these new initiatives, I do not doubt that diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries will be taken to an even better level,” he said.

The Development Road project

Moreover, Acar also explained that the planned Development Road Project, which aims to construct a land and railway transportation corridor extending from Basra to Türkiye, primarily aims to connect the two countries and positively impact logistics within Iraq.

He pointed out that the significance of starting the project from Basra lies in the presence of the Faw Port, which is planned to cater to more than just the country’s needs.

“In this respect, the Development Road will serve regional trade primarily and subsequently international trade. The project, which also includes railway transportation, will make freight transportation between the two countries cheaper and faster,” he explained.

Like this, he said it would not be wrong to expect an increase in trade between the two countries.

“Furthermore, the Development Road, which will become part of the new ‘Silk Road’ project in the region, will play a significant role in revitalizing the Middle Corridor. The project will not only connect Iraq but also Central Asia to Europe,” he noted.

Pitched as a link between Asia and Europe, the Development Road project aims to tie Grand Faw Port, a major commodities port in Iraq’s oil-rich south, to the border with Türkiye and then to Europe through a network of railways and highways.

Acar also noted that with the opening of the Faw Port, Türkiye would become a transit point for Gulf countries’ trade with Europe. He added: “While stability, development and security are enhanced in the region through the Development Road Project, Turkish companies will play critical roles in the construction of highways and railways.”

Evaluating the joint operation step against the terrorist organization, which is expected to be brought to the agenda during Erdoğan’s visit, Acar emphasized that terrorism is the biggest obstacle to the peaceful living of societies and the prosperity of countries.

“Türkiye and Iraq are two ancient neighboring countries. Acting together against terrorism will of course have a very positive impact on relations. An effective fight against terrorism means gains not only in our relations with Iraq but also for the entire Middle East geography.”

Türkiye’s defense minister, foreign minister and intelligence chief recently visited Iraq for a preparatory meeting ahead of Erdoğan’s visit. The PKK’s leadership hid out in Iraq’s north, and Ankara was disappointed over the lack of cooperation from Baghdad in the fight against the PKK terrorist organization in the past. Yet, the visit of ministers amid an atmosphere of improved cooperation is viewed as a sharp turn in Iraq’s policy toward the PKK.

Erdoğan recently signaled a cross-border military offensive in Iraq this summer to wipe out the terrorists.

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