Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pitched free trade agreement with India as a starting point to expand the ambit of bilateral economic ties.
Erdogan, who was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday, said the two countries should also explore the possibility of trade in local currency to deal with exchange rate fluctuations.
Addressing the India-Turkey Business Summit in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said the relationship between the two is based on friendship.
“We should increase our business and economic relationship… If we can also start comprehensive economic relations negotiations, that would be great,” Erdogan said.
The visiting president further said the Turkish-India business council should be a more active mechanism.
“It would be also good to start free trade agreement (FTA) talks. This would also add further momentum to our relations,” he said.
He, however, noted that the bilateral trade volume is skewed against Turkey. Of the total USD 6.5 billion trade, Turkey’s export was only about USD 650 million.
“The trade volume should be balanced as fast as possible. Steps should be taken to achieve that…,” the president added.
Turkish companies have pumped in about USD 212 million whereas Indian investment in Turkey reads nearly USD 100 million.
Erdogan termed Turkey as “an ideal hub” for investment and production, given its geographic location, and invited Indian companies to put in capital.
The businessmen of the two countries, he suggested, can also join hands to explore investment opportunities in third countries.
Projecting his country as an ideal tourist destination, the president said Indian families are increasingly organising wedding ceremonies in Turkey in recent times.
“Therefore, we would like to host more Indian tourists in Turkey… you can come to Turkey for honeymoon. We would like to host you in Turkey,” Erdogan added.
He also stressed on further developing collaboration between Turkish Airline and Air India.
(With inputs from PTI)