BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: Qatar and Turkey are in talks to boost bilateral economic ties in a big way by exploring and expanding new areas of cooperation, which may include an investment of nearly $12bn in Turkey’s power sector, Nihat Zeybekci, the Turkish Minister of Economy said here yesterday.
“We are negotiating with Qatar as it has expressed interest in investing in the ambitious coal-field development and power project,” Zeybekci told The Peninsula on the sidelines of Qatari-Turkish Business Forum, which was attended by prominent business leaders from both sides.
The $20bn investment project, which was initially to be executed with the cooperation of an Emirati company, includes development of coal mines and building several coal-fired power plants at the Afsin-Elbistan site, located in the Southeastern Anatolian province of Kahramanmaras.
The Minister of Economy and Trade, H E Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al Thani, said that accelerated development of Qatari-Turkish relations is a proof of the sincerity of the intentions, harmony of vision and the existence of many commonalities.
Sheikh Ahmed also said that the visit of the Turkish business delegation to Doha proved both sides’ keenness on implementing the decisions and recommendations developed by the joint committees.
He also noted that it would have a positive impact on increasing the volume of bilateral trade as well as exploring new investments.
However, the Qatari side did not mention about any specific project it is negotiating with Turkey or agreements being signed for investments in coal field development or power project.
The coal field, which is estimated to have a proven reserve of over 4bn tonnes of lignite coal, constitutes nearly 45 percent of Turkey’s total reserves.
According to reports, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) had signed an agreement in early 2013, but TAQA opted to shelve the $12bn investment plan due to political reasons.
However, this newspaper has learned from reliable sources that an agreement between Turkey’s Electricity generating company (EUAS) and Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority, has been signed to conduct feasibility studies on the site.
The Turkish minister, who did not provide further details about the project’s current status, said that both countries enjoy vibrant relations and are looking forward to strengthen trade ties, and also create a joint investment company to invest in third countries.
“Qatar is a very important partner for Turkey. It is like my second hometown. Both the countries have great potential to deepen and strengthen mutual cooperation. Over the last ten years, bilateral trade has witnessed substantial growth, but we think it is not enough,” he added.
“The combined GDP of Turkey and Qatar is nearly $1 trillion, but our bilateral trade volume in 2013 stood at merely $774m, which is less than 0.01 percent of the combined GDP. I just discussed with my brother Sheikh Ahmed to increase this volume to $1.5bn by 2015.” The Peninsula