“CEO Round Table Meeting”, 11 October 2022

Türkiye and Switzerland met at the “CEO Round Table Meeting”

The Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Türkiye in cooperation with the Embassy of Switzerland in Türkiye and the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye organized a “CEO Roundtable” on 11th October 2022 at Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul, to discuss the strengthening of the commercial and economic relations between the two countries.

President of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Türkiye, Mr. Arpat Şenocak, opened the roundtable meeting by saying “The bilateral trade has been recovering with the normalization and showing a continued upward trend, which is very satisfactory for both countries. We expect that the recent entry into force of the modernized free trade agreement between Türkiye and the EFTA countries (including Switzerland) will help further grow the commercial exchanges. Developments in terms of investments are also promising, as Switzerland keeps increasing its strong footprint in Türkiye. Further improvements regarding the investment environment in Türkiye would definitely help sustain this rising trend.”
Ambassador of Switzerland to Türkiye, H.E Jean-Daniel Ruch confirmed that the key Swiss economic actors are aware of the potential offered by Türkiye over the long term. Swiss companies rank 1st this year so far regarding foreign direct investment, which illustrates that strong interest. An area which has not been mapped enough so far is the innovation and high-tech. Whereas Switzerland wins the top ranking on innovation lists in the world, Türkiye has shown a remarkable program in innovation activities over the last years. We will see over the next years whether the two ecosystems can match.
President of the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye, Mr. Burak Dağlıoğlu stated that relations between Switzerland and Türkiye are close and diverse. Switzerland and Türkiye maintain solid trade relations. Türkiye is Switzerland’s 24th largest trading partner. A balanced course has been observed in relations in recent years, with an annual trade volume of 4.6 billion USD in 2021. According to the preliminary data, the overall volume could approach 5 billion USD by the end of 2022.

Swiss exports to Türkiye include chemicals/pharmaceuticals (37%), machines (12%), and watches (11%). Türkiye exports mainly textiles (40%), non-precious metals (9%), vehicles (9%), and agricultural products (8%) to Switzerland. Gold and other precious metals/stones traditionally represent a large share of our bilateral trade: 31% of exports to Türkiye and 14% of imports from Türkiye (2021). Türkiye is also an important tourist destination for Switzerland. In 2019, more than 200.000 Swiss tourists visited the country and in the post-Covid-19 period, this figure is expected to reach 300.000.
Switzerland ranks among the leading countries in the world for direct investments abroad. Swiss investors are interested in long-term projects. It is important to underline that Switzerland has been the 8th largest foreign investor (capital stock) in Türkiye and there are more than 300 Swiss companies currently located in the country. They cover a wide range of activities in various sectors: machinery, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, banking, insurance, tourism,
food, transport, etc. Importantly, Swiss companies contribute to Türkiye’s construction and infrastructure globally and locally by supplying not only material but also engineering and construction expertise such as in waste-to-energy production, railways, motorway construction, and maritime port infrastructure.
A renewed Free Trade Agreement between Türkiye and EFTA countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) was signed in 2018 and entered into force in October last year. In parallel, an Agriculture Agreement was also signed between Switzerland and Türkiye. In June 2022, TürkEximbank and its Swiss counterpart SERV signed an MoU to support EPC (Engineering Procurement Contracting) projects in Türkiye and third countries.
The original free trade framework was dating back to the early 90s and built up in an economic environment that was fairly different from the one we experience today. A modernization of the key terms was therefore necessary. The updating of the Free Trade Agreement and the signature of a separate Agriculture Agreement are expected to have positive effects on trade volume between the two countries.
During the roundtable, representatives of the Swiss companies in Türkiye presented their views as to the areas of improvements regarding bilateral trade and investment opportunities, as well as cooperation opportunities in terms of innovation, sustainability, and Swiss-Turkish startup ecosystems.

The meeting was concluded with constructive remarks and both sides emphasized their confidence as to the fact that necessary actions will be taken to further improve the strong relations on trade and investments.