Turkish Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan speaks during a joint Kurdish-Turkish Trading Forum
Turkish Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan speaks during a joint Kurdish-Turkish Trading Forum held in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. Turkey wants to more than double trade with Iraq this year, Ankara's economy minister said at a trade forum, amid recent tensions between the two neighbours. © Safin Hamed - AFP
Turkish Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan speaks during a joint Kurdish-Turkish Trading Forum
AFP
Last updated: January 19, 2012

Turkey aims to double Iraq trade in 2012

Turkey wants to more than double trade with Iraq this year, Ankara's economy minister said at a trade forum, amid recent tensions between the two neighbours.

"Our trading relationship is developing day by day and the volume of bilateral trade last year was $12 billion (9.4 billion)," Zafer Caglayan said in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

"We want this figure to reach between $20 billion or $30 billion in 2012."

At the forum, attended by around 150 businessmen representing 70 Turkish companies, Caglayan called for greater Iraqi investment in Turkey.

He said 740 companies currently had construction contracts worth $2.5 billion just in the Kurdish region.

"We do not want to interfere in the affairs of other countries after the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq," Caglayan said, amid accusations from Baghdad that Turkey, by voicing concern over a domestic political crisis, was meddling in Iraqi internal affairs.

"We do not want to plunge Iraq into crisis after the destruction it has suffered. We are concerned about the stability and security of Iraq."

His remarks came a day after Turkey summoned Iraq's ambassador to protest claims it has been meddling in Baghdad's affairs by voicing concern over a domestic political crisis.

Feridun Sinirlioglu, the foreign ministry's undersecretary, told the Iraqi envoy that the accusation was "unacceptable" and Turkey had a legitimate right to be concerned about events on the other side of its borders.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan angered his counterpart Nuri al-Maliki by phoning him last week about a standoff with his Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi whom he has accused of running a death squad.

Caglayan's remarks also came on the same day a mortar round struck the outer compound wall of the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, but there were no casualties.

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