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Following his Ireland visit, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will head to Turkey. Xi will start his trip in the capital Ankara, where he is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trade and diplomatic relations will be high on the agenda.
Long time friends, the two countries have shared diplomatic relations for over 40 years. Turkey recognizes China's growing importance both in the areas of economics and politics, while Beijing acknowledges Ankara's growing influence with its surrounding neighbors.
While diplomatic issues will likely be discussed when the two countries meet this week, trade is also expected to be high on the agenda.
In 2011, imports and exports between Turkey and China reached $24 billion from what was 1 billion just 12 years ago. China has thereby become Turkey's third largest trading partner. Dr. Cagdas Ungor is an export of Chinese affairs at Istanbul's Marmara University and says commerce between the two countries could become even more important as economic problems plague two of their largest trading partners, the European Union and the United States.
Dr. Cagdas Ungor said, "Both China and Turkey have both been much less influenced from the negative implications of the financial crisis. So in the middle run, in the long run, I believe bi-lateral trade will basically be much more important for each side."
Both Turkey and China have shown this importance by pledging to double trade in the next three years and increase it to $100 billion by 2020. This growth will come from further cooperation in a number of areas including energy and tourism. That is why 2012 has been declared China Culture Year in Turkey; an effort to increase cultural knowledge and interest in the Far East.
Dr. Ungor believes this anticipated expansion in trade will come from street level. Dr. Cagdas Ungor said, "I believe that Chinese and Turkish businessmen know each other much better than the statesman so the government's level exchanges basically lag behind the economic exchanges."
Turkish businessman Serkan Aksehirli has had economic exchanges with China since 2008. He travels to China many times a year to purchase car navigation and entertainment systems, which he then sells to auto manufacturers across Turkey.
While he has seen a lot of change during this time, he hopes that the two countries will discuss simplifying trade regulations.
Serkan Aksehirli, owner of Navimaster, said, "The products are changing, the people's minds are changing for the last four years very very rapidly. The quality is getting much better now. If we just get a better service in terms of the customs and this kind of issues, everybody could get benefit of these things."
Yet the Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan would like to see the benefits from more balanced trade between Turkey and all Asian countries as more is currently incoming than outgoing.
While both countries will be looking to boost bi-lateral trade during the visit of the Vice President to Turkey, it still is clear who has the upper hand. One dollar or one lira shops all across the country still sell a wide variety of goods, including your children's favorite toys, manufactured in China.