by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Turkey is gearing up for the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) where its firms will be actively seeking new cooperation and trade opportunities in a global market increasingly affected by crippling U.S. protectionism.
As the world's first import-themed national-level expo held in China's Shanghai on Nov. 5-10, the CIIE will attract exhibitors from all G20 members, over 60 countries and regions along the Belt and Road, which refers to an initiative proposed by China in 2013.
The Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
Turkey, a NATO and G20 member and a geographical bridge between Europe and Asia, is a part of this multi-billion U.S. dollar project which spans over 65 countries.
Turkey has been enjoying Chinese overseas investments in the recent decade. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has recently provided a 3.6-billion-dollar loan package to the energy and transportation sector, showing the determination of both countries to deepen cooperation.
Some 40 Turkish firms will be participating in the expo, said the Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters Association (IMMIB) who coordinates for Turkey the event in Shanghai.
"We are very excited for this exposition. Around 40 Turkish firms will be attending," said Seyma Inam, an expert from IMMIB, adding that Turkish Airlines also announced its willingness to participate in the event.
"We are preparing for the promotion phase, a pavilion has been granted to Turkish firms in the expo hall and we are making sure that all attending firms will be able to promote their goods there," she said, adding that Turkish exhibitors hope to sign new export contracts with Chinese counterparts at the expo.
Turkey's Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan is expected to attend the fair and she is overseeing the preparatory work to better promote her country's goods and products for the Chinese consumers.
"The Chinese market is very big and important and our firms are very interested in this market that they want to know better," said Inam.
Experts believe that the CIIE shows of good will from Chinese part to express its determination to cooperate with many countries with whom its trade balance is largely in its favor.
"Turkey has an unbalanced trade volume with China which stands annually at about 28 billion dollars. 24 billion of this volume account for Turkish imports. Thus this fair is a way of addressing candidly this fact and expressing willingness to cooperate between companies," said Selcuk Colakoglu, director of the Ankara-based Turkish Center for Asia-Pacific Studies.
"This fair is an important platform to promote goods and products from different countries of the planet and to enhance a synergy as a mean to connect the real sector," added Colakoglu.
On a larger perspective, Turkey and China are linked with strategic targets to enhance their bilateral relations.
Colakoglu said in the past seven month there had been a financial outflow of some 5 billion dollars towards Turkey, including ICBC's loan package, adding that "numbers show that China is a very important partner (of Turkey)."
Turkey will promote mainly industrial and chemical products, mechanical automobile parts and kitchen utensils but also regional culinary specialties such as hazelnuts.
There will also be a firm exhibiting in the Turkish pavilion rose water and rose essential oil, used in the cosmetics industry, mainly in perfumeries making.
"We need to evaluate what kind of business we can do on the fair. If we can introduce rose oil to traditional Chinese chiropractic and massage, it's a big market," said Ahmet Sincer, factory manager of Rosa Damascane, a family owned company located in the central Anatolia city of Isparta.
"China is a huge market and its demand is enormous. We need a reliable and experienced local partner, jointly paving the way to enter Chinese market," the businessman expected his prospective.