By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- At the invitation of the Turkish government, the vice president of Suriname, Robert Ameerali, will lead his country’s first high-level visit on March 7 to Turkey and hold bi-lateral talks with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, which is seen as a major boost for a small developing state like Suriname in developing ties with Turkey, an emerging global and economic power that is expect to join the BRICS group soon.
The aim of the visit is to strengthen political and economic relations between the two countries.
Ankara and Paramaribo are expected to sign four trade agreements during Ameerali’s visit. Also, Suriname and Turkey are expected to adopt a visa-free regime for their respective nationals travelling between the two countries.
Ameerali was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Suriname and has been praised for his advocacy on behalf of Surinamese entrepreneurs. He participated regularly in national, regional and international conferences using his knowledge and experience about entrepreneurship and negotiating missions on behalf of Suriname.
Ankara’s honourary consul in Suriname, Jim Bousaid, and director of the Hakrinbank, said that Turkey is the world’s15th biggest economy and that the country has emerged as a global economic and political power and is very interested in the Caribbean, as well as South and Latin American markets.
According to Bousaid, Turkey would love to invest in Suriname and is interested in the mining, logging and agriculture sectors of Suriname. Suriname in turn is keen to attract foreign direct investments.
"We can make good use of the possibilities, but on the other hand, Turkey is also interested in buying Surinamese products, such as wood," said Bousaid. According to him, the imports from Turkey are increasing. The products are slightly more expensive than those from China, but they are of a better quality.
A great deal of diplomacy and planning went into this upcoming mission to Ankara. Turkey’s ambassador to Suriname, Ersin Erçin, who is based in Brazil, made over three visits to Suriname to flesh out some of the upcoming agreements that are expected to be signed in Ankara between Suriname and Turkey.
Turkey has since expanded relations with Suriname, Cuba, other Caribbean countries and Latin America. According to Erçin, Suriname is very important for Turkey. Suriname is seen as a bridge to markets in the Caribbean and Latin America. Erçin noted that Suriname will soon assume the chair of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
Turkey has already set up an embassy in Havana and will also open an embassy in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Turkey already opened several embassies in South America.