President Gül aims to boost trade with China .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ANKARA - President Abdullah Gül’s trip to China from June 23 to 29 will aim to strengthen the image of the Turkish products and its market, a top Turkish businessman said. "The Chinese considered Turkey to be in the same category as Africa and Asia, instead of Europe. The Chinese saw Turkey as a ’market full of oblivious consumers and importers,’" the deputy chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board, Yavuz Onay, told daily Referans in an interview.

Aside from various businessmen, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, State Minister Zafer Çağlayan and Interior Minister Beşir Atalay will accompany Gül to Beijing, Xian, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Urumqi. Businessmen from both countries will also meet at the Turkish-Chinese Business Forum. Onay said expansion into the Chinese market was long delayed and neglected. "The question of image has also been neglected. If China can see Turkey as European, our path will be half opened. Our products will go through the door as European," said Onay. During Gül’s stay, exporting iron and steel as well as chromium and marble will be discussed to obtain high-technology imports from China.

He said there have been problems in the Chinese market waiting to be solved for years and there are no noteworthy Chinese investments in Turkey. Expecting an increase of interest in Turkey from Chinese firms as a result of the trip, Onay said they were anticipating agreements to be signed. Although the agreements will not have a binding form, Onay said through the "build-operate-transfer" model, they are aiming to attract Chinese high-technology investments. He said this could be another dimension to enhance Turkish exports.

Emphasizing that entrance into the Chinese market was overdue, "For the ones who turn to China now, it will be difficult. The costs are increased. The firms investing there are bigger than the firms who think they are the greatest firms in Turkey," said Onay.

The trade volume between the two countries is around $17 billion, according to 2008 figures.