There is a lot of opportunity to cooperate and increase trade and investment between South Africa and Turkey “without necessarily going into a free trade agreement,” South African Ambassador to Turkey Vika Mazwi Khumalo said yesterday.

“We feel that the free trade agreement will be disadvantageous, particularly for South Africa. However, we need to work with each other for now to reach a very good connected level in our textile sector as well as in the automotive sector,” Khumalo said at the Turkey-South Africa Business Forum in Istanbul. The Forum was jointly organized by The Turkey-South Africa Business Forum, the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) and Turkish-South African Business Councils.

Meanwhile, South African Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe explained that the FTA had not yet been completely decided upon, while officials commented on accelerating free trade-related talks after 2016. “But we do not sit and wait. We are trying to increase cooperation between companies by these business forums,” she added.

$1.5 bln of bilateral trade

The Chairman of the Turkish-South African Business Council, Tamer Taşkın, called on companies from both countries to meet and gain knowledge from one another to widen trade volume between the two countries. “Trade volume is too low. We are trying to increase this volume by forums and visits,” he said. The trade volume between the two countries is at around $1.5 billion.