Turkish-Greek Trade Relations

In 1999 both Greece and Turkey suffered vast devastation after earthquakes struck both countries. Out of this devastation came a confidence between the two countries which would have been otherwise unimaginable. The earthquakes, through the help of various aid and assistance organizations, brought about an opportunity for these two opponents to come together as one.

The intimacy brought upon by these earthquakes was also reflected in the political views of both countries. The December 1999 Summit in Helsinki, in which Greece showed their support for not only Turkey’s candidacy and steps towards entering the European Union but also supported Turkey’s complete membership into the European Union, helped establish the bases for the growing relationship between Greece and Turkey.

On April 6th, 2001 in Istanbul, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Yorgos Papandreu and Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs İsmail Cem helped strengthen and further this relationship by signing the Ottawa Agreement which required both countries to remove all land mines currently in tact. This agreement was amongst positive steps taken during the terms of both Ministers.  

The 6 different “Turkish Aegean Coasts-Greek Aegean Islands Economic Summits” organized by our Chamber became positive strides in the relations of Turkey and Greece. These, very significant Summits, became an economic playground for this flourishing relationship.

The aim of these Economic Summits is to develop positive and constructive political, economic, social relationships. The first Summit was held on the island of Mytilene, Greece on November 21-22 1998, the second was held in Izmir, Turkey on June 2-3, 2000, the third was held between the dates of June 22-23, 2001 on the Greek Island of Samos, the forth was held in Bodrum, Turkey on June 8-9, 2002, the fifth Summit was held on September 26-28 2003 on the Greek Island of Crete and the last and most recent Summit was held on June 30th 2005, in Athens.  

These Economic Summits were closely planned and prepared in cooperation with the Turkish-Greek Chamber of Commerce which was established by Panagiotis Koutsikos in 2000.

The Summit in Samos between the dates of June 22-23 2001, with the participation of Foreign Affairs Ministers from both countries, helped establish and amplify public confidence and trust throughout both countries.

The Summit held in Samos also helped create and further develop public opinion about the developing relations visible between the two countries. Additionally, during this Summit, a decision was made in which the Schengen Visa would become implemented for entry into Greece rather then the previously required Greek Visa.  

During the Crete Summit, preliminary talks with the Greek Ministry of Finance and Economics began regarding an agreement to avoid double taxation. Due to the necessity of this agreement, both Ministers showed great importance and the results of these talks were reached much more rapidly.  

The expanding relationship between Turkey and Greece has resulted in a foreign trade volume of approximately 2 billion USD; this growing number presents many opportunities available for business growth and partnerships.  

Foreign Trade Distribution (Million USD)

Years

Exports (Turkey)

Imports (Turkey)

Deficit/Surplus

Trade Volume

1994

168,7

105,1

63,6

273,8

1995

209,9

200,7

9,2

410,6

1996

236,5

285,0

-48,5

521,5

1997

298,2

430,8

-132,6

729,0

1998

369,2

319,7

49,5

688,9

1999

406,8

303,0

103,8

709,8

2000

437,7

430,8

6,9

868,5

2001

476.1

266.2

209.9

742.3

2002

573,8

323,6

250,2

897,4

2003

910,6

424,3

486.3

1.334,9

2004

1.166,0

592,0

574

1.758,0

2005

1.122,0

721.0

401

1.843,0

                                                                                                           Source: DEİK 

The largest increase seen in trade figures between Turkey and Greece have recently been seen in the Aegean Region of Turkey. The closeness of the Aegean Region to the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea has also affected the amount of export from the Aegean Region. In the first six months of 2005 Aegean Region exports levels were at nearly 42.5 million USD, while during the first six months of 2006 Aegean Region exports reached nearly 71 million USD.  

In order to continue to increase trade and keep figures at appropriate levels, it is vital to expand and develop this continued partnership. A recent partnership seen between Turkey and Greece is the acquiring of Turkey's Finansbank by Greece’s largest bank, The National Bank of Greece. The National Bank of Greece acquired 46% of the bank and will help further and develop this growing sector throughout both countries.  

With the financial sectors already moving together, in cooperation with the Turkish-Greek Chamber of Commerce, our Chamber has established a Turkish-Greek bank project. This project will not only help amplify the financial sector, but it will also help the partnership connecting Greece and Turkey.  

The development and establishment of the Business Aegean Bank has quickly been initiated in cooperation with Turkish and Greek investors.  

Initially the bank was established with a 50-50 partnership between Turkish and Greek investors. However with the interest of American investors, the bank currently has been established with three partners the United States, Turkey and Greece.  

Currently in English the bank is known as the “Business Aegean Bank and in Turkish as the “Ege Girişim Bankası”. Currently plans have been made for the banks first branches to be opened in both Athens and Izmir, accordingly.  

The banks initial goals are to increase trade relations; particularly those relations which will help increase future partnerships.  

Although between these two countries we see very high trade volumes, the trade potential currently available has not yet been reached. Short terms relations are on a rise, further possible trade opportunities will become more evident with the creation of this bank.  

As a Chamber we feel that by establishing this Aegean Portal, businessmen throughout Turkey and Greece will be able to come together to help increase trade and this continuously flourishing relationship.