Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil and the Turkish prime minister, Recep Yayyip Erdogan, talked about the intensification of trade relations between the two countries and peace in the Middle East this Wednesday, May 20.
Coming from Beijing, Lula arrived on Wednesday in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, and met with Erdogan at the í‡iragan Palace Hotel, formerly the residence of Ottoman Empire sultans.
During the meeting, Lula and Erdogan also started setting up the details for the visit of the Turkish prime minister to Brazil, due next year, when Brazil should host another conference of the Alliance of Civilizations.
Despite being the world's 20th largest economy, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$ 800 billion, Turkey ranks 51st among the Brazilian trade partners. The flow of trade is on the rise – it has tripled within five years – but is still low, having totaled US$ 1.2 billion in 2008, according to the Brazilian government, or US$ 2 billion, according to the Turkish government, which wants to expand it to US$ 10 billion in the next five years.
"There is no such thing as a small market to us. Every market is important," said the Brazilian minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Miguel Jorge.
The Brazilian minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, who also attended the meeting, stated that president Lula talked to Erdogan about the interest of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturing company Embraer in recovering the space lost when Korea won a recent tender for supplying aircraft to Turkey. According to him, Embraer is interested in becoming associated with Turkey in order to produce the jet cargo aircraft that are going to follow the Hercules models.
On Thursday, Lula closed a seminar attended by 40 Brazilian and 150 Turkish businessmen. The main themes discussed were infrastructure, defence industries, tourism, food and energy, biofuels included. There are also perspectives for partnerships in auto parts manufacturing.
Also during Lula's visit, the Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras was expected to sign a partnership with Turkish state-owned enterprise TPAO for oil prospecting and extraction in the Black Sea.
In trade between the two countries, Brazil is at the forefront, exporting nearly twice what it imports from Turkey. In tourism, however, the relation becomes inverted. Last year, according to Celso Amorim, 45,000 Brazilians visited Turkey, whereas only 5,000 Turks traveled to Brazil.
With nearly 800,000 square kilometres and 70 million inhabitants, Turkey is living in expectation of becoming part of the European Union and witnesses the expansion of Islamism. The Islamic party, AKP, won two elections in a row. It is the party of the prime minister and of the president, Abudullah Gül, who will welcome the Brazilian president on Friday, in the capital Ankara.
The president of Brazil will also take a boat trip of the Bosphorus Strait and visit historic attractions in Istanbul, such as the Blue Mosque and the Museum of Saint Sofia.