Turkey’s Relations With The Asia-Pacific Region

It is now apparent that the defining theme of the 21st century will be the rise of Asia-Pacific region. The rise started primarily in the economic field but its political, military and cultural implications have gradually begun to manifest themselves. This region is in the midst of a rapid development process and consequently many countries in the region are increasingly seen as important actors. The Asian continent contains around 45 percent of the world population, as well as 30 percent of the world economy. As such, any political, military, economic development in the region as well as developments regarding environmental impacts of industrialization, Access to food, raw materials and energy resources have global affects.

Turkey has a special place in the region, as it is also an Asian country, among its many vocations. Turkey has historic, cultural, linguistic and religious ties with a wide range of countries along the ancient Silk Road. In line with its multi-dimensional foreign policy and in view of the growing economic and political significance of Asia-Pacific, Turkey has put into effect policies geared towards opening up to the region, which has gained considerable depth in recent years. Turkey has elevated its relations to strategic partnership with six countries in the region: China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. Turkey has widened its diplomatic network in the region by opening new Embassies in Naypidaw, Phnom Penh, Bandar Seri Begawan and Vientiane. This brings the number of Turkey’s diplomatic representations in the region to 15. Turkey plans to open an Embassy in Fiji in the near future.

Turkey has close cooperation with these countries in such international bodies such as UN, G-20, IOC and MIKTA. Turkey’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation of ASEAN in 2010 and membership of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) in September 2013, as well as active participation in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) as Post-Forum Dialogue Partner and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as Dialogue Partner are all reflections of our desire to associate with as many different sub-regions of the Asia-Pacific as possible.

Turkey’s bilateral trade with the Asia Pacific region has increased dramatically in the recent years. The trade volume with the region has scaled up from 17 billion Dollars in 2004 to 71 billion Dollars in 2017. The investment from the countries in the region to Turkey has exceeded 7.5 billion Dollars by the end of 2017.

Turkey has signed three Free Trade Agreements in the region with South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.

Turkey regards ASEAN as the key regional organization in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region. With its combined GDP amounting to the 8th biggest economy in the world, the 4th largest trading entity with a dynamic population of nearly 650 million, located in the middle of strategic sea routes, ASEAN is an important actor in the region.

Turkey pays special attention to developing its relations with ASEAN. In this regard, Turkey is granted the status of Sectoral Dialogue Partner of ASEAN at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 5 August 2017 in Manila, H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey was also present by the invitation of the Philippines as the host country in the said meeting.

Turkey closely follows the situation of Muslim communities in the region. In this regard, Turkey supports the dialogue process in Southern Thailand and contributes to the peace process in the Southern Philippines. The situation of Rohingya Muslims and Muslims in general in Myanmar is another issue that Turkey follows closely.

Foreign Ministers of Turkey and the Pacific Islands convened in Istanbul in April 2008, marking the first major event that brought Turkey and the Pacific Island countries together. Turkey hosted Turkey - Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) Foreign Ministerial Meeting in 2014, held under the theme "From Bosporus to the Pacific: Continued Cooperation for Sustainable Development”.

Turkey is committed to assisting and supporting developing countries in their efforts towards sustainable development and growth. Turkey has become one of the leading countries sharing its own development experiences and contributing to the efforts in international development cooperation for the Least Development Countries (LDCs). Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has also been working to contribute to the social and economic development of the region.