The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales
Members will be aware that I have recently returned from a 2 day visit to Turkey. I visited at the invitation of Minister Caglayan, the Turkish Minister for the Economy, to scope the opportunities for Welsh business and to open doors.
Turkey has an expanding economy. With a population of 74 million it is the 16th largest economy globally and was the 3rd fastest growing economy in the world in 2011. Turkey is currently Europe’s 7th largest economy and is predicted to be the 4th biggest by 2050. Unlike Europe with an aging population, half of the population of Turkey is under the age of 29. Impressive progress has been made in reducing poverty. Welsh business should recognise Turkey’s potential as a dynamic and fast developing economic powerhouse.
During my visit I met a range of significant contacts. Minister Caglayan is keen to increase the economic links between Wales and Turkey and I committed to facilitating a trade mission of Welsh businesses at a future date. I also met with Mr Ibrahim Kapaklikaya, Deputy Secretary General of Istanbul Municipality and discussed the opportunities for cooperation in the field of renewable energy. I further suggested developing links between The Institute of Low Carbon Research in Wales and a similar organisation in Turkey. Istanbul is bidding for the Olympic Games of 2024 and is keen to develop expertise on stadia management. I advised that the Millennium Stadium has significant relevant expertise and this should form an area of useful cooperation.
I met senior figures from HDM Steel, a Turkish steel pipe manufacturer that has recently set up a facility in Cardiff which has created 38 jobs. HDM Steel aims to begin production in April and was very positive about the support it has received from the Welsh Government and the quality of workforce in Cardiff; they are already considering expansion plans.
I met the British Chamber of Commerce, which is active in Turkey, and sought their views on the support Welsh companies looking to develop business might access. The Chamber is very willing to provide practical assistance and expertise.
I was pleased, too, to give the welcome address at the UK-Turkey Knowledge Partnership Conference. The Knowledge Partnership is an initiative between the UK and Turkish Governments aimed at promoting new opportunities for business, research institutions and governments for mutual benefit. I was able to promote UK and Welsh expertise in sustainable, low carbon manufacturing.
There is opportunity for Wales to develop the Islamic Banking sector. I met Islamic Banking CEOs and discussed their current operations which are centred on London. The banks registered interest in Cardiff’s expanding Finance and Professional skills base and believe there may be scope to develop Islamic Banking services in Wales, particularly insurance services. I will be asking the Minister for Business, Enterprise,Technology, and Science to work with her officials to take this forward.
Throughout my visit I received tremendous support from the British Embassy, Consulate-General and UKTI and I look to continue working with them as we take forward future opportunities. Turkey is a fast developing economy which I commend to Welsh business and a country that I look forward to developing closer ties with in the years ahead.