Erdogan hails Algeria trade deals on Africa tour
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the signing of trade deals with Algeria on Tuesday as he visited the country on the first leg of a tour of Africa.
Erdogan said the agreements would allow Ankara and Algiers to diversify trade pending the signing of "an agreement on the protection of investments as soon as possible".
The Turkish president had already insisted, in an interview published in the Algerian daily Echorouk on Monday, on the need for the bilateral agreement to be finalised in order to "protect investments".
"We see Algeria as an island of political and economic stability in the region. Our first trading partner in Africa is Algeria," Erdogan said on Tuesday.
But "investments and trade will gain in volume as the work of our businessmen in Algeria is facilitated," he said, without elaborating, in remarks made in the presence of Algeria's Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Industry Minister Youcef Yousfi.
Currently worth around $4 billion, trade was expected to "reach $5 billion at the first stage, then $10 billion," he said.
In his interview with Echorouk, Erdogan criticised Algeria's importation barriers "which hinder the development of bilateral trade" and he also called for its visa regime to be eased for Turks, especially businessmen.
On Tuesday, he said he was "convinced" of the need to speed up cooperation in the energy sector, notably by developing "joint projects".
Erdogan also welcomed Monday's signing of a memorandum of understanding between Algerian state oil giant Sonatrach and Turkish groups Ronesans and Bayegan for $1 billion in petrochemical investments at Yumurtalik in southern Turkey.
At the conclusion of the agreement, Sonatrach is to provide the raw materials for the production of 450,000 tonnes of polypropylene each year, the Turkish president said.
Shortly after his arrival on Monday evening, Erdogan's delegation signed seven agreements in hydrocarbons, agriculture, tourism, education, diplomacy and culture.
On Tuesday afternoon he met ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 80, who rarely appears in public.
The Turkish strongman -- who has described his tour of Africa as "historic" -- is expected in Nouakchott on Wednesday before heading to Senegal and Mali.