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The Philippine Embassy in Ankara, Turkey co-organized a digital webinar with the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) entitled Reigniting Southeast Asia Cooperation: Opportunities between the Turkey and the Philippines on 18 August 2020. Speakers at the webinar included Philippine Ambassador to Turkey, H.E. Raul S. Hernandez, Philippine Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary, Mr. Ceferino Rodolfo, Turkish Deputy Minister for Trade, Ms. Gonca Yilmaz Batur, Turkish Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Artemiz Sumer and DEIK President Nail Olpak. The webinar was moderated by DEIK Turkey-Philippines Business Council President Mr. Ilkem Şahin.

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The speakers discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy as well as the efforts both the Philippine and Turkish governments have taken to cushion the adverse impacts of the pandemic on their respective economies. The speakers briefed the audience on recent developments in bilateral economic relations including the convening of the inaugural Philippines-Turkey Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (PH-TR JCETC) in 2018, the exchanges of business missions that followed and recent agreements concluded in the fields of investment promotion, defense, agriculture and tourism. Both sides agreed that bilateral trade volume remains below potential with significant room for growth. Also discussed was the Philippines’ location  as a natural entry point to the ASEAN market with duty free access to ASEAN+6 (China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India). The Philippines and Turkey are keen to restart economic relations with the convening of the 2nd Philippines Turkey JCETC scheduled in the first quarter of 2021.

Undersecretary Rodolfo drew parallels between the Philippines and Turkey for their large populations and potential to be each other’s gateway for their respective regions. The Undersecretary also explained the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives offered by the Philippines to potential Turkish investors including those for priority sectors that bring in research and development activities, textile manufacturing and the healthcare sector among others.

Deputy Minister Batur recommended businesses to leverage existing bilateral agreements on investment promotion and avoidance of double taxation to ramp up two-way investment flows between both countries. The Deputy Minister added that Turkey’s Asia Anew Initiative will shape Turkey’s foreign policy for the region in the coming years.

Ambassador Hernandez called on Turkish companies to trade with and invest in the Philippines, highlighting the Philippines’ large consumer base, skilled labor force and recently-passed legislation to attract foreign investors. The Ambassador also encouraged Turkish investors to partake of projects under the Build Build Build program and cited potential investments in tourism infrastructure enhancement projects.

Ambassador Sumer said that Turkish Airlines, the only European commercial carrier with direct flights from Europe to Manila, can contribute to enhancing trade ties through the shipment of goods and products while DEIK President Nail Olpak called the Philippines “one of the more dynamic countries in the Asia Pacific region” and encouraged Turkish businesses to consider the Philippine market for its strong position in ASEAN.

The webinar was attended by over 130 participants, making it one of the more well-attended digital events hosted by DEIK. The webinar was held to sustain interest in trade and investment relations between both countries in the lead up to the 2nd Philippines-Turkey Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation in 2021.

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