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Forum Istanbul gathers Turkish, international experts

Turkey has to cultivate its own consumer habits and finance opportunities, economy minister tells annual gathering
ISTANBUL
Bringing together Turkish and international opinion leaders, the two-day Forum Istanbul started Thursday in Turkey’s most populous city, looking forward to "Establishing the Future - Marching Towards 2023."
Turkey must cultivate its own consumer habits and finance opportunities while taking advantages of consumer networks in the region, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in his opening speech to the 16th annual gathering, whose main theme this year is "Turkey Redesigns Its Future".
"We have to enhance Turkey with private sector support. We have to provide export-oriented growth, and produce and export more," he added.
Also speaking at the forum, Turkish Exporters’ Union (TIM) head Mehmet Buyukeksi said their aim is to boost Turkey’s exports from a projected $153.3 billion in the Medium-Term Economic Program to $155 billion by year’s-end.
Buyukeksi said that as a strategic partner of the forum, they would focus on how to move the economy forward despite local, regional, and global challenges.
“During the conference, contributors will explain their projects and plans, which shape the future, in economic subjects such as exports, growth, and employment,” he added.
 Turkey’s position a ‘privilege’
In his speech during the session on “A new era in Turkey and the world,” Wadah Khanfar, president and co-founder of the Istanbul-based Al Sharq Forum, said: "Turkey's geographic location is a privilege promising a bright economic future."
Khanfar said that in order to move forward, Turkey has to attract more talented people as the country is "too Turkish," arguing that creativity thrives on diversity.
Mehmet Ogutcu, head of the Bosphorus Energy Club, also said that Turkey should be one of the world’s 10 most livable countries so that instead of a brain drain, it sees a “brain gain.”
"Trust matters in foreign politics. If investors can’t see the path of the next 10 years, they won’t come. To empower your economy, your energy resources should be affordable," he said.
Asked by reporters about the meeting of the Turkish and Russian presidents yesterday, which addressed a current Russian ban on imports of Turkish tomatoes, Zeybekci said: "Russia's sensitivities on tomatoes will be gradually eliminated, the curb will be removed. We will allow them to protect themselves with custom tariffs the same way we do.”
Zeybekci added that they will move rapidly on a free trade agreement between Russia and Turkey and work to accelerate upgrading Turkey’s Customs Union with the EU.

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