Zambia and Turkey have held the first ministerial session of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) aimed at growing the economic bilateral relations, according a statement by the Zambian Embassy in Turkey.
At the meeting held in the capital Lusaka on Thursday, Zambia was represented by Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji while the Turkish government was represented by Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, the family, labour and social services minister, the statement said.
The JEC session provides an opportunity for the two countries to evaluate the progress made in the implementation of various agreed areas of cooperation between Zambia and Turkey.
Malanji said the two countries share good bilateral relations through Turkey-Africa partnership summit — planned for April under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency — and other platforms where they have supported each other’s candidacy.
The agreed cooperation areas include the establishment of Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency liaison offices in Zambia and the establishment of a joint business council between two chambers of commerce, he added.
He also explained that the JEC is expected to further address the strategic areas of cooperation and agree on a number of joint activities.
There is a need to ensure that decisions made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Zambian counterpart Edgar Chagwa Lungu during their reciprocal visits in 2018 are materialized into actual projects and programs, Malanji said.
He stressed the need for both sides to remain committed to the joint decisions included in the signed minutes, while the Turkish minister praised Zambia for its commitment to strengthen the bilateral ties.
The two countries have continued to enjoy bilateral relations in key economic sectors for the benefit of the people both in Turkey and Zambia, added Selcuk.
She referred to various areas of cooperation and positive achievements, including launch of a Turkish direct flight from Istanbul to Lusaka, and rising interest of Turkish investors to invest in various sectors of the Zambian economy.
The investment flows should grow, Selcuk stressed, adding that Turkey is committed to establish a free trade area to enhance the economic cooperation.
Selcuk has also pledged Turkey’s support to Zambian development plans such as the Seventh National Development Plan, especially targeting agriculture, construction, tourism and small and medium enterprises.
The countries cooperate on various areas, including women empowerment, trade and investment promotion activities, enhancing the Turkey-Zambia joint business council, cooperation activities in agriculture, energy, mining, health, tourism and education, among others, the statement added.
Memorandum of Understanding signed to attract more investments
According to the statement from Zambian Embassy in Turkey, the countries also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) after the joint economic commission to attract more investments in various sectors among them agriculture, energy, mining, health, tourism, and education.
Malanji said Turkish’s investment in various sectors of the economy is timely as it will enhance trade and commerce between the two countries, adding that the MoU was as a result of the official visit President Edgar Lungu made to Turkey in 2018.
“Agreed areas of cooperation include the agreement signed in various areas such as the establishment of Turkish international cooperation and development agency liaison office in Zambia,” he said.
Other cooperation included the establishment of a joint business council, cooperation between the chamber of commerce among others.
Malanji said the presidential decisions made in 2018 are being actualized now as evidenced by the signing of Statutory instruments to grant diplomatic immunities and privileges to the TIKA in Zambia.
He said the commencement of Turkish Airlines flights on the Ankara-Lusaka route has facilitated enhanced cooperation between the two countries that will enhance trade, investment, and tourism.
Malanji further said the signing of the MoU which was also witnessed by Minister of Gender and Child Development Elizabeth Phiri will foster benefits that will strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations which will improve the living standards of the people in the two countries.
For Turkey, Minister Selcuk said the bilateral relationship is poised to boost trade and investment opportunities between Zambia and Turkey.
“The number of Turkish investors has increased from 2018 when President Lungu made a visit to our country,” she said.
Selcuk expressed his gratitude on the MoU, adding it would help support women empowerment programs and assured that more exchange programs will be conducted to benefit the two countries.