Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday his country’s trade with the energy-rich Gulf had yet to reach its full potential, as he visited a region where Ankara aims to strengthen ties.
“We want to develop trade volume with the Gulf states, which last year reached $17.4 billion (15.9 billion euros),” Erdogan said in Kuwait.
“Compared with the potential we have, this size is below the required level,” the Turkish leader said.
Negotiations between Ankara and the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are under way for a free trade agreement.
The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Erdogan, who told reporters he was happy with his government’s political ties with the GCC, had previously said he aims to boost cooperation in the economic and defence sectors.
The Turkish president arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday to lay the foundation stone for an airport terminal project awarded to Turkish firm Limak Holding and a local partner, Al-Kharafi International.
Turkish firms have been involved in projects worth a total of $6.5 billion (5.9 billion euros) in Kuwait.
Turkish companies have been awarded around $51 billion (46.79 billion euros) of contracts across the GCC over the past 14 years, Erdogan said.