Friendly Relations Between Turkey and Pakistan
Turkey and Pakistan hold great potential in various areas if they act together
Yasemin Toy, the Chief Representative of Bank Al Habib Turkey, gave an interview to Katılım Finans to discuss the trade relations between Turkey and Pakistan.
Firstly, we would like to know more about you and your career journey starting from Emlak Bank and Extending towards Bank Al HabIb Turkey Representative OffIce.
I graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences, Department of International Relations. I started my banking career in 1998 at Emlak Bank, in the Foreign Relations Department, which I felt more accustomed to. Following the merger of the two banks in 2001, I continued to work in the Foreign Relations/Financial Institutions Department of Ziraat Bank. I worked as the Global Financial Institutions Manager in the state banks of Turkey for 20 years, including three years at Emlak Bank and 17 years at Ziraat Bank. Since my career at Ziraat Bank coincided with the Bank’s transformation, together with my team at the time, we formed the first borrowing transactions of the Bank in international markets such as syndication, postfinancing, and ECAs (Export Credit Agencies). While Ziraat Bank had a 1% foreign trade share in the first years of my career, by the time I left, it was around 15%. Having been doing the same job for a long time encouraged me to seek out different opportunities, and thus in May 2018, I accepted Bank Al Habib’s offer. I have contributed to the commercial and banking relations between Pakistan and Turkey as the Chief Representative of Bank Al Habib Turkey for three years. I am proud and happy to be part of the Bank Al Habib family.
Can you tell us about the activities of Bank Al Habib Pakistan and the Turkey RepresentatIve Office?
Bank Al Habib is a commercial bank serving with 854 offices in Pakistan and is the country’s 6th largest bank. It belongs to the Habib Family, a well-established and reputable Pakistan family. By the end of 2020, Bank Al Habib’s share of Pakistan foreign trade is around 13.65 percent, and it also continues to operate in Islamic banking. In addition to Pakistan, the bank has branches in Bahrain, Malaysia and Seychelles as well as representative offices in Turkey, UAE, China and Kenya.
Bank Al Habib has held a representative office in Istanbul since 2011 to strengthen relations between the Turkish firms located in Pakistan and improve employment opportunities. Turkish banks also execute transactions with Bahrain and Malaysia branches of the Bank managed by the Representation Office. We are working with Mr. Khurram Durrani, who has been appointed from Pakistan. Khurram Durrani began his banking career in 2001 and has worked as a manager in various banks in Pakistan in the area of operations, credits, marketing and risk management. Khurram Durrani has been working at the Turkish Representative Office since 2018. Having worked and gained experience in almost all regions of Pakistan has allowed him to support and guide Turkish companies that do business in Pakistan.
We would like to hear about the commercial and banking relatIons between Turkey and Pakistan from your perspective.
The most striking point in bilateral trade between Turkey and Pakistan is that despite the highly positive and friendly economic, social and cultural relations, trade volume is deficient. The foreign trade volume between the two countries is only around $800m. Through the contributions of the administrators/government authorities of both countries, trade volume is aimed to be increased to $5 billion by 2023. However, due to the pandemic, I think we are far from reaching this target. Bilateral trade is also limited because there is no Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Geographical distance, shipping costs and additional taxes are some of the biggest obstacles in trade. Although the transaction volume between banking sectors is deemed to be limited in parallel with trade, it is evident that Pakistan banks provide loans to Turkish banks through such means as syndication and that Pakistani banks easily meet the demands for letters of guarantee in the projects carried out by Turkish companies in Pakistan. In short, despite limited trade opportunities, the two countries’ banking sectors have maintained solid, long-standing ties in various areas.