Trade: Turkish firms seek way out of USD 12 bln Iraq market

03 July, 13:05

    (ANSAmed) - ISTANBUL, JULY 3 - The largest business organization in Turkey has launched a two-phase study on securing and sustaining business in violence-hit Iraq as Turkish companies have started withdrawing from the USD 12 billion market. The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) - as daily Hurriyet online reports - has started to coordinate with the Foreign Ministry on the plan, which initially seeks to evacuate Turkish business representatives and employees who are currently in danger zones. The second phase focuses on problems faced by exporters, carriers and logistics firms. Some 49 Turkish citizens, including three consuls general in Mosul and several members of the Turkish Special Forces, were taken hostage by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and transferred to an undisclosed location on June 11. The government is expending efforts to save a sum of around 80 citizens, when others, mostly drivers, held in other places are included. TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu said the business organization would do all it can in close cooperation with the ministry’s crisis desk. The TOBB's newly founded working group has been collecting information about the situation in its southeastern neighbor, sharing it with officials to help generate solutions. Turkish investments and projects in the country, mainly in housing, power stations, infrastructure works and shopping malls, have already been halted. Turkey, with the highest number of foreign employees in the country, was taking a role in the reconstruction of the war-hit country before the clashes between ISIL and state security forces heated up.

    According to Foreign Ministry data, Turkish contractors undertook 495 projects worth USD 7.5 billion in Iraq between 2003 and 2009. Some 300 Turkish companies across the country employ 10,000 people, according to official figures. Iraq is the second biggest export market for Turkey, accounting for 8% of Turkey's overall exports. When exports conducted via Iraq are taken into consideration, the overall effect of the crisis on exports rises to 15%. (ANSAmed).

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