South Africa and Turkey should renew their efforts to increase trade following a drop in commercial activity between the two countries, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe.
"Trade between South Africa and Turkey decreased from R10.6-billion in 2008 to R5.1-billion in 2009 and further to R4.9-billion in 2010 mainly due to the global economic crisis," Thabethe told a business seminar in Istanbul on Tuesday.
Thabethe is in Turkey on a four-day outward selling and investment mission, accompanied by a business delegation made up of representatives from South Africa's energy, mining, jewellery, infrastructure, clothing and information and communication technology sectors.
The deputy minister said that in spite of the prevailing global economic climate, the two countries should think outside the box to reverse the trend.
"I am hoping that the businesspeople from Turkey and South Africa that are here today will work together to ensure that this trend is not only arrested, but it is actually reversed by taking advantage of the myriad trade and investment opportunities available in both countries."
The two countries had similar characteristics, with an advantage in terms of their location, the minister said.l
"South Africa is located as the gateway to the African Continent, with Turkey in the Middle East neighbouring various European Union states. This is one advantage that should be used maximally by our businesspeople.
"Surely, there is certainly greater room to grow the volume of a two-way trade and investment between South Africa and Turkey."
Turkish Deputy Minister of Economy Mustafa Sever said South Africa was one of the world's success stories and was brimming with opportunities that Turkish businesspeople could explore in partnership with their South African counterparts.
During the South Africa-Turkey Business Forum held in South Africa in October, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the two countries played pivotal roles in the development trajectory of the globe.
"The two powerful nations that are critical to the development of the world should be trading more with each other and should be investing more in each other," Patel said.
South Africa and Turkey are both members of the G20.