Various media outlets have recently been reporting on the
economic relationship between Turkey and the Balkan countries, as
well as the growing interest of Turkish companies to do business in
this region through acquiring or cooperating with local companies
– many of which are state-owned and in the process of being
put up for sale by their respective governments. If we look closer
into specific examples, the numbers are supportive of this positive
trend, i.e. in Serbia, three years ago only 25 Turkish companies
were present in the country's market, with that number rising
up to 90 in 2016.
Furthermore, at a recent meeting in the Serbian Chamber of
Commerce, the activity between Serbia and Turkey in the banking
sector, or more precisely, the acquisition of Čačanska
Bank by the Turkish Halk Bank – a transaction that Karanović & Nikolić advised on,
was emphasised as a particularly positive signal for potential
The above meeting was attended by the Association of Young
Businessmen from Ankara (ANGIAD), a group that encompasses around
1000 companies from Turkey, some of which have shown interest for
investing in Serbia and cooperating with local companies across a
diverse range of industries including building materials, wood
processing, tourism, healthcare, coffee processing, and others.
ANGIAD representatives were then introduced to the improving
business climate in Serbia, through a presentation that included
the local investment conditions and the ongoing reform process in
the Serbian economy. Some features of doing business in Serbia that
are considered of special relevance to Turkish investors have been
highlighted, especially those related to the possibility of
navigating across third markets due to Serbia's free trade
agreements with a wide range of countries including – but not
limited to – Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, EU, and CEFTA &
EFTA member countries. Veljko Jovanović, Advisor to the
President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, remarked that Turkey
is one of his country's already most important trade partners
and announced the Chamber's openness to all Turkish companies
interested to do business with Serbia.
Another – more significant example of activity on this
front – was seen last month at the third Croatian-Turkish
Business Forum, held in Zagreb, which featured a number of
prominent attendees, including the Presidents of the two countries.
A positive attitude towards future commercial relations between
Croatia and Turkey was showcased throughout the event, with many
encouraging statements coming from President Erdogan himself, who
proclaimed hope for the bilateral trade figures to rise up to 1 EUR
billion over the next five years, so as to equate the state of the
economic relationship between the two countries with the already
highly positive state of political affairs. It should be noted
that, when compared to those benefits previously mentioned in the
case of Serbia and Turkey, the potential for such cooperation
between the Croatian and Turkish economies has a somewhat different
set of perks, mainly since Croatia, as an EU member, can make it
significantly easier for Turkish products to reach the European
Single Market. Turkey however, is in the position to offer equally
valuable benefits to all its business partners, with a fast growing
economy and a strong backbone of investors, as well as through
functioning as a trade bridge to the Black Sea and the countries of
the Middle East. Finally, a good example of potential large-scale
cooperation can be found in the recent rumours surrounding the
potential Turkish Airlines' acquisition of Croatia
Most of the above developments give us an encouraging
perspective on how countries from our region can shape their
commercial relations with Turkey, and in doing so, build on the
cultural heritage that's hundreds of years old, en route to a
future in which new history – at least in a business sense
– waits to be written. We will watch this space with
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