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Turkiye Aims to Reduce Trade Deficit with Beijing Through Food Exports & Energy Infrastructure Projects

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan says that Turkiye hopes to narrow its trade deficit with Beijing via more agricultural and food exports during his recent visit to Beijing.

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Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan says that Turkiye hopes to narrow its trade deficit with Beijing via more agricultural and food exports during his recent visit to Beijing.

Minister Fidan, arrived in Beijing earlier this month to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and other officials. He also visited the far western region of Xinjiang, host to millions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

China is Turkiye’s largest trade partner in Asia and its fifth largest globally.

According to a report by MEMO, Fidan claims that Ankara expects China to import more agriculture and food products from Turkiye, and conveyed Ankara’s wish for China to encourage more companies to invest in Turkiye and more Chinese tourists to visit.

Turkiye’s imports from China stood at USD 44.9 billion in 2023, while exports totalled USD 3.3 billion, according to official data.

In May, Turkiye’s Energy Minister held talks with Chinese authorities and firms on mining projects, nuclear and renewable energy, while signing a pact on energy conversion. Ankara is in talks with China on a third nuclear power plant it aims to build in the Thrace region.

While pushing increased economic ties with China, it is claimed that Fidan expressed Ankara’s concerns around the issue of the Uyghurs.

Some 50,000 Uyghurs are estimated to live in Turkiye, the largest Uyghur Diaspora outside Central Asia. Turks have close ethnic, religious and linguistic ties to the Uyghurs, many of who speak a Turkic language.

According to the source, Fidan advised Chinese officials that Uyghur Turks were “very important for us” and reminded Beijing of the Turkic and Muslim worlds’ sensitivities regarding the “protection of the cultural rights and preservation of the values of Uyghurs”.

Fidan also reiterated Turkiye’s “One China” policy regarding Taiwan.

In May, Turkiye’s Energy Minister held talks with Chinese authorities and companies on mining projects, nuclear and renewable energy with the two countries signing a preliminary pact on energy conversion, according to a Reuters report.

Energy Minister, Alparslan Bayraktar, met China’s Minister of National Resources, Wang Guanghua, during a visit to Beijing and the pair agreed to boost cooperation on mining, especially in critical minerals and rare earths, according to a Ministry report.

Bayraktar met Zhang Jianjua, head of China’s National Energy Administration, to discuss nuclear and renewable energy,  

Commenting on the preliminary agreement on energy conversion, Bayraktra says that “We are aiming to bring to life concrete projects as soon as possible”.

Turkiye, aims to establish three nuclear power plants – one of which, the Akkuyu power plant, is being built by Russian conglomerate, Rosatom.

Bayraktar met representatives from China’s State Power Investment Cooperation (SPIC), a top electricity producer with the capacity to operate a nuclear power plant, and has the largest renewable resources among China’s state utilities.

“We have set a roadmap for nuclear and renewable energy projects,” says Bayraktar.

According to his ministry, discussions on building conventional and modular nuclear power plant reactors in Turkiye with representatives from China also took place, with “different investment models” under consideration by Chinese battery giant, CATL, including the construction of a battery storage factory in Turkiye.

Note from the Editor: This feature has been edited from its original publication here.

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