Hasina met with President Abdullah Gül at the Çankaya presidential palace on Thursday afternoon. Then, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Hasina in his office. The two leaders held talks about regional issues as well as bilateral relations and focused on how to bolster the trade volume, which reached $1 billion in 2011.
In November 2010, Prime Minister Erdoğan became the first Turkish prime minister in 21 years to visit Bangladesh. A high-level delegation of ministers and businessmen accompanied him during the two-day visit to the South Asian country to further bolster growing trade ties.
The trade volume between the countries has substantially increased during the Erdoğan era. While it was only $47 million in 2002, it reached $658 million by 2009. During his visit, Erdoğan said they have increased the previously set $1 billion goal for 2015 to $3 billion. “There should be more, not less,” Erdoğan underlined, adding, the increasing trend in trade volume proves that Turkey and Bangladesh can achieve that target.
Turkey and Bangladesh are also in the Developing-8 (D-8) -- an arrangement for development cooperation among Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey -- that enhances dialogue between the countries. The establishment of the D-8, an organization aimed at fostering economic cooperation among its Muslim developing country members, was announced officially by a summit of heads of state and government in İstanbul in June 1997.
During a joint news conference with Erdoğan late on Thursday, Hasina said it would be pleasing to see Turkey and Bangladesh's trade volume reach $3 billion by 2015.
She added that her trip to Turkey was very fruitful and beneficial and that Bangladesh attaches great importance to its relations with Turkey.
“We evaluated cooperation in the cultural, agricultural and educational fields. We will continue to work with Turkey on diverse projects,” Hasina stressed. She also noted that visits by Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Erdoğan to Bangladesh in 2010 strengthened relations between the two countries.
“I call on Turkish businessmen to come and invest in Bangladesh,” Hasina added, stressing that Bangladesh would like to see the trade volume between the two nation reach $3 billion by 2015. Erdoğan said the current trade volume of $1 billion doesn't reflect the true potential of the two nations, which have a combined population of 225 million.
Hasina said Bangladesh happily welcomes Turkish businessmen and investors. “We especially expect investment in the energy sector. We are pleased to receive investments in transportation, food, carpets and other fields,” she stated.
She also stated that Bangladesh was encouraged to see the Turkish government increase the amount of scholarships it offers to Bangladeshi students and that Bangladeshi students who are receiving an education in Turkey will be able to play a serious role in bilateral relations in the future.
On the topic of direct flights to the Bangladeshi capital of Dacca, she said Turkish Airlines' (THY) direct flights between İstanbul and the capital city will bring the two nations closer. Direct flights, she further asserted, will also help further develop commercial relations. Hasina also touted visa liberalization with Turkey as an opportunity to increase cooperation and said such a move would pave the way for improved cultural and social relations.