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Analysts, businesspeople say Turkish investments in China have room to grow.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Analysts, investors and old hands from Turkey and China's business communities gathered in ystanbul on Tuesday, meeting to discuss boosting investment between the two developing economies amid a global slump.

"We're gathered to discuss how we can take trade from the current volume of $24 billion to a volume of $100 billion over the next eight years, a goal which is within our reach," said Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TE[pounds sterling]SyAD) President E[pounds sterling]mit Boyner as attendants packed into a sprawling conference room at ystanbul's Bosporus-front SwissE[sup.3]tel. The $100 billion by 2050 pledge, which was first announced by senior officials from both governments this year, comes as both countries look to energize a trade relationship which panelists at Tuesday's "Understanding and Doing Business with China" conference uniformly said had room to grow.

Sponsored by Turkish trade groups TE[pounds sterling]SyAD and the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEyK), the conference saw businesspeople and analysts focus on how best to invest capital in and boost exports to China, which enjoys a skyrocketing rate of domestic consumption but is also a complex market for foreign firms and suffers from a glut of over-investment by the state.

Speaking at the conference's opening, self-made billionaire and long time investor in China HE-snE- Euzyey-in drew from his own memories of traveling to China and signing deals with Chinese companies during the '80s and '90s, urging participants to travel to China and investigate closely the dynamics of a country which "is invariably hard to grasp." The business tycoon especially warned potential investors away from "looking at China as if it were a monolith," and described the importance of planning investments "province by province," gaining the backing of regional officials through visits and using Chinese partners to better sort good investments from bad.

"If you're considering any kind of investment, you must do it with a Chinese partner," warned Euzyey-in. "I remember when we invested our first $200 million in China C* we did not have a Chinese partner. Suffice it to say that I would recommend one," he quipped.

Despite the complexity of investing in the country, Euzyey-in and others said that untapped and potentially profitable investments for Turkish firms abound, if the country's businesspeople are willing to go to China and look for them. "We have to engage with business in China better. Now, with the slowdown, China has gained a special importance," one Turkish representative of Citibank told Today's Zaman. "Our trade with Europe is suffering, and we're looking to the Middle East and Asia. China is a prime place where trade will grow."

Optimism over such perceived opportunities was often balanced by the cautious tone of some Chinese panelists and businesspeople, who suggested that investments in the country could easily be misspent. China is "full of opportunities, but bloated by over-investment in many sectors," warned panelist Xu Xiaonian, a professor of economics at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). "And this is a structural problem. Just as Europe and the US are in a recession for over-spending, we are entering a recession whose roots are too much ill-spent investment." Citing an excess production capacity which has tanked manufacturers' margins, the economist warned that the government would continue to heap on its own investments to shore up sagging growth rates. In September, the government approved a $157 billion stimulus package, while local governments hinted that they might be planning seven times that much in investment-oriented stimulus.

"My advice here is simple," said Xu. "Visit the country, go there and do your research. There is tremendous potential, but you can't find good intelligence in deceptive outside numbers. I advise you not to rely on the government's five-year plan," he stated, referring to the Chinese government's official economic plan for growth and investment.

Whether well-spent or otherwise, Xu and others predicted that Turkish and Chinese trade was bound to increase dramatically in the coming years. "In my four years in Turkey, I've noticed an incredible growth in trade and relations," said Chinese Ambassador to Turkey Gong Xiaosheng. "That can be built on and continue to grow. Today both Turkey and China are beginning to see the benefits of this relationship, and that potential will only increase."

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Sep 11, 2012
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