Turkey’s footprint in Mexico is growing as the two countries continue to strengthen their cooperation and ties in several areas, with even more potential, Turkish Ambassador to Mexico Tahsin Timur Söylemez said.
“Our bilateral relations with Mexico are at an excellent level. We have excellent dialogue in terms of policy as well as cooperation, especially within international institutions such as the UN, G-20 and MIKTA,” Söylemez said, referring to a consultation platform informal interregional meeting between Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Turkey. Australia.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah, Söylemez clarified that Turkey and Mexico support each other in these institutions while cooperating on several vital issues, including migration, climate change and security. The two countries have no problem, he said.
Speaking on bilateral economic relations, Söylemez, who served in Mexico for 4 and a half years, stressed that the relations are very active.
“Over the past few years, we have gained significant momentum. Mexico is our biggest export market in Latin America – this is a fact that is not widely recognized in Turkey,” the envoy pointed out, saying that huge opportunities await exporters in Mexico, which should be further encouraged.
“Mexico is not just a market of 125 million – much bigger than Turkey – but an economy of trillions of dollars and at the same time part of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) . Therefore, it is also possible for our exporters to sell products to the United States via Mexico,” Söylemez explained. Noting that several exporting countries are investing in Mexico, he said these are selling their products from Mexico to the United States and the wider region.
Mexico is prospering rapidly, he added, pointing out that there is no security problem in the country for businesses. “Almost all major exporting countries and companies are here; so we also have to seize this potential.
“In 2019, Turkish Airlines started direct flights, this had been a significant gap in the relationship. It started with two flights a week whereas currently there are daily flights and in November these should be increased to 11 and there are even plans to organize two flights a day in 2023.”
Bilateral trade volume between Mexico and Turkey increased by nearly $2 billion (TL 30.97 billion) – a record figure – the envoy explained, and pointed out that Turkish companies have also started to participate in large projects of strategic value in Mexico as well. as prestigious projects of the Mexican government.
Turkey and Mexico mull free trade deal
“In bilateral relations, there are great opportunities, especially in the area of trade. In this context, we want to sign a free trade agreement with Mexico. This has been on our agenda for some time,” Söylemez stressed and said the process gained momentum with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the country in 2015, followed by visits by the Foreign Minister. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in 2017 and 2019.
Detailing the FTA process, Söylemez said the two countries are deadlocked on specific issues. “Overcoming these challenges requires high-level commitment. Because of the customs union, since Mexico has an FTA with the EU, it causes problems in trade. Mexico, thanks to its customs union, can sell products to Turkey via the EU; however, Turkey cannot sell products to Mexico in the same way. We need to reinvigorate the process.
Söylemez said Turkey is trying to keep the FTA process on the agenda and explained that the two countries not only have bilateral potential but also within global supply chains.
“In this context, it is also on our agenda to hold a joint economic commission.”
The ambassador said that the Turkish trade minister is planning a visit to Mexico this year with a large trade delegation which could also see the organization of a Turkish products fair.
“We want to see what practical steps we can still take while the FTA process waits on one side.”
Tourism is another important area of cooperation, he added, saying Turkish Airlines facilitates the process. “Since Turkish Airlines is a connecting airline, travel is not only between Turkey and Mexico, but also between the two different regions.”
Interest in the defense industry
There is also interest in Turkey’s defense industry, Söylemez stressed, saying the ministry is investing energy to keep this interest alive and strengthen it. He mentioned that Turkish companies had won tenders and provided Mexicans with exciting new opportunities. Finally, there was cooperation on software, he said.
“It’s a market in which we are not naturally known. We must actively explain the value of our brand and the comparative superiority of our products. It is not possible by far. We have to come, attend fairs and exhibit our products,” Söylemez stressed, indicating that the advantages not only of quality but also of price must be demonstrated.
“You have to enter the competition and find a place here, the rest will come. Once we enter the Mexican market, we will not only enter the North American market, but also the Latin American market.
Turkey’s defense industry has been a focal point on the international scene in recent years with exports of defense industry projects currently being carried out to 170 countries. Turkish armored vehicles and drones are particularly in the spotlight, being preferred by more and more countries.
Two close cultures
Söylemez also said that Turkish institutions such as the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the Yunus Emre Institute are active in the country with several projects ranging from small-scale quick-impact projects to half a million dollars.
“Soon we will open the Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Center in Mexico. We expect the Mexican Minister of Culture to be present. This is an important step in advancing our cultural relations, especially in presenting more details about our culture, from Turkish coffee, Turkish cuisine to Turkish literature, art and cinema. . Our embassy is gradually expanding, as is Turkey’s footprint here.
The ambassador pointed out that there is a positive perception towards Turks, while Turkish series are also gaining popularity. “We have to build on that.”
“There is a difference in language, distance and time difference, but that shouldn’t be a barrier – it’s one of the biggest countries in the world. With its people, nature and culture, Mexico, like Turkey, is a global brand. We have to perceive Mexico as a place close to the heart despite the physical distance,” Söylemez said, describing the two countries as “like twins separated at birth.”
The two countries are similar in many ways, including their level of development, challenges they face as well as cultural and historical depth, he said and added that just like Turkey is a bridge between the Europe and Asia, Mexico is a bridge between the North and Asia. Latin America.