Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Turkey will be closely watched as he has time and again envied the success story of Turkey’s socio-economic development after the AK-Parti came to power.
President Erdogan congratulated PM Khan on assuming office and said they would work on bilateral ties, reflected in the exchange of high-level delegations, including President Arif Alvi’s participation at the inauguration of the New Istanbul Airport.
What to expect
The Chief Foreign Policy Adviser to President Erdogan, Dr Ibrahim Kalin, said in an interview while visiting Pakistan that there is an impasse on signing the FTA due to a difference of opinion in the bureaucracy on the tariffs in the textile sector but it is anticipated that Pakistan and Turkey would finally sign this agreement.
Turkey’s experience with IMF loans and future investments and its role with neighbouring economies is something that perhaps Pakistan could learn from. The procurement of ATAK-129 Helicopters and defence cooperation will also be on the agenda.
For a little perspective consider the comparison over time of these numbers:
Turkey’s exports in 1998 were $26.8 billion, which rose to $157 billion by 2018.
Pakistan’s exports in 1998 were $9 billion and rose to $24.7 billion by 2018.
Annual Pakistani exports to Turkey are $215 million and imports are $250 million. Turkey’s portfolio of investment is around $500 million.
Turkish companies operating in Pakistan include Turkish Airlines, Albayrak, Enka, Tekser, Unka, Bebek Fashion, DeFecto, Sarar, Domat, Arcelik and Kale. Turkish defence cooperation with Pakistan include the alliance of SARSILMAZ with the Pakistan Ordinance Factories and the Turkish Aerospace Industries and manufacturers of Naval frigates with Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production.
The Economic Cooperation Organization and Vision D-8 should ideally top the agenda of Prime Minister’s visit. It is seen as a recipe to address the region’s socio-economic woes. A quadrilateral summit of PM Mahatir, President Erdogan and PM Imran Khan could be hosted by Iran.
The D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation with the participation of Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria envisions a common-market organisation made up of mainly Muslim countries that have similar trade goals and policies.
Turkey and Pakistan should agree to extend the right of visa on arrival and e-visa for ordinary passport holders and establish Turkish Passport Control posts at Pakistani airports for local immigration as the US has in Abu Dhabi to block human trafficking. These models are inspired by the visa regime of Qatar and Malaysia for Pakistanis. There are fewer than 200 Turkish citizens in Pakistan and around 2,000 Pakistanis live in Turkey.
If he wants, PM Imran Khan could turn his visit to Turkey into an opportunity with President Erdogan to pursue a new geo-political stratagem, keeping in view the changing global order.
Ibrahim Qazi is a political analyst based in Lahore.