Turkey and China signed a deal last month for the construction of an underground natural gas storage facility at Lake Tuz in Turkey. In an email interview, Selcuk Colakoglu, an associate professor at the International Strategic Research Institution (USAK) in Ankara, Turkey, discussed relations between Turkey and China.
WPR: What is the nature of trade relations between Turkey and China, including the main sectors of trade and direct investment?
Selcuk Colakoglu: One of the main motivations of Ankara’s rapprochement with Beijing in the late-1990s was to gain economic benefits for Turkish businessmen in China. However, the increasing trade volume with China caused huge trade imbalances for Turkey. According to 2010 figures, China has maintained a huge trade surplus -- in the amount of $15 billion -- with Turkey, largely stemming from consumer goods. Turkey wants to compensate for the trade imbalance through an increase in Chinese investment in Turkey, inbound tourism from China, joint ventures in third countries and a greater opening of the Chinese market to Turkish products. During Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s visit to Turkey in October 2010, Ankara and Beijing declared their intention to raise the volume of trade to $50 billion by 2015 and to $100 billion by 2020 under a new "strategic partnership."