INVESTORS URGE RESTRAİNT ÖVER CAİROÂNKARA ROW

Today-s-Zaman 25112013 305
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Investors urge restraint över Cairo-ânkara row ERGİN HAVA İSTANBUL The latest decision by Cairo to downgrade diplomatic relations vvith Ankara is not likely to have a negative impact on Turkish investments in this country -- vvorth an estimated $2 billion — businesspeople have told Today's Zaman. Egypt said on Saturday it vvas expelling Turkey's ambassador and accused Ankara of backing organizations bent on undermining the country -- an apparent reference to the Müslim Brotherhood of ousted Hgyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Ankara reciprocated by scaling backrela tions wi th Egyptto the same level. Relatively coııfident on the issue, Turkish investors in Hgypt said they hoped the two countries' relations vvill be restored soon. Companies are optimistic that things vvill return to normal even faster than expected. "Turkish businesses are determined to maintain and even make nevv investments in Egypt, vvhich remains a critical door to African markets," the Foreign Economic Relations Board's (DEİK) Zuhal Mansfield told Today's Zaman in an e-m aile d note. Underlining that Turkish companies have learned hovv to survive under similar conditions, Mansfield said they vvill contiııue eııcouraging Turkish firms to maintain market shares in Egypt. Egypt hosts 250 Turkish companies vvith estimated investments of $2 billion. Turkish investments in Egypt are mostly focused on the construction and textile sectors along vvith food and infrastrueture. Around 60,000 Egyptians are enıployed bv Turkish entrepreneurs vvithin Bgypt. Turkey sold $1.59 billion vvorth of produets to Egypt last year. Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) Chairman Mehmet Büyükekşi telis Today's Zaman that they expect the current trade and investment relations to trump diplomatic tension. "We are sorry to see hovv political ties vvorsened betvveen the tvvo capitals; however, these developments vvill not defer Turkish dealers and investors from further improving relations vvith Egypt," he explained. İsmail Hakkı Kısacık, the general manager of Turkey's leading textile producers, Taha Group, says Turkish investors in Egypt have learned hovv to maintain restraint över such tensions through the past year and adds they have no plans to slovv dovvn business in this countrv. "We are a company that manufactures in Egypt, employ Egyptians and contributes to Hgyptian exports. ... I believe the local authorities vvill bear this in mind. There vvill be no sense in hampering Turkish business interests in Egypt." Tlıe group has textile produetion facilities in Egypt where they employ more than 2,500 vvorkers. Turkish investors in Egypt have said they saw a relative decline in foreign orders during this summer's tension, addiııg, hovvever, that sales vvill return to normal and even inerease next year. The chairman of another investor in Egypt, Turkish Home Textiles Industrialists and Businessmen Association (TETSİAD), Yaşar Küçükçalık, telis Today's Zaman they are committed to contiııuing investments in the North African country regardless of problems. Küçükçalık says the current political problems negatively affect their morale. but added: *We have 1,300 Hgyptian employees vvorking at our produetion facility there and are hoping to inerease tlıis number vvith nevv investments." He said they vvere surprised bv Cairo's latest decision to expel top Turkish diplomats but thev are not "discouraged." Along vvith trade ties, Turkey is also currently involved in a number of infrastrueture projects vvithinEgypt. The country earlier sigııed a deal vvith eight countries in the surrounding region, ineluding Egypt, to provide services for intereonneeting electricity povver transmission. Mehmet Büyükekşi İsmail Kısacık Yaşar Küçükçalık Zuhal Mansfield