It was the first trip to Africa for the Turkish president, who arrived in Cameroon yesterday accompanied by 120 businessmen, government ministers, members of parliament and journalists.
President Abdullah Gul returns home after signing bilateral agreements with his Cameroonian host, President Paul Biya. They include promises to cooperate more closely in agriculture and to permit visa exemptions for Cameroonians holding diplomatic and service passports.
He also attended a business forum attended by hundreds of Turkish and Cameroonian businessmen, held to encourage trade and investment ventures.
The Turkish Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research says the government expanded its diplomacy in Africa five years ago in an effort to increase trade and recruit new allies in international diplomacy.
Located between Europe and Asia, Turkey is an important trading partner for Africa. The World Bank includes it among the 15 most developed countries in the world. Turkey, like many African countries, is a member of both the United Nations and the Islamic Conference.
Speaking through an interpreter at a dinner toast in Yaounde, President Gul said his country shall pursue with determination the fight against racism, intolerance and xenophobia. He said Turkey intends to bring in wealth, deepen and diversify relations with Africa in the areas of economic cooperation, health, education, rural development, and energy as well as other issues. He says both Africa and Turkey will benefit.
Turkey established official relations with Cameroon 50 years ago. Until now they have not been close, although Turkey buys Cameroonian timber, crude oil and aluminum. Cameroon’s imports from Turkey include cement, iron ore, metals, tires, fertilizers, textiles and bakery equipment.
President Paul Biya says the current volume of trade is far below existing potential. He says all that is about to give way to flourishing trading links between both countries.
Mr. Biya says Turkish businessmen should take advantage of Cameroon’s strategic location and political stability in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as reduced delays in the creation and costs of setting up companies. He says huge investment opportunities exist in a number of sectors, including agriculture, food processing, textiles, tourism, infrastructure and real estate.
Turkey so far has 12 embassies in Africa and plans to open nine more in the years ahead.
The country’s increased interest in Africa comes on the heels of increased competition from Chinese, European and American investors.