Turkey: national involvement in the Indian Ocean Region

15 Nov 2012

This paper argues that unless it's foreign policy shifts unexpectedly, Turkey will continue to have a growing trade focus on India, Indonesia, South Africa and Australia.

If the past four years are any indication, the Indo-Pacific region is home to a rising batch of economic powerhouses, whose growth and capacity mean that they are outpacing Western countries as preferred trading partners. With that in mind, Turkey finds itself confronted with an uncertain future. Ankara may need to decide whether to stick to its historical roots and solely focus on Europe as its dominant trading partner, or to hedge its bets and concentrate on Indo-Pacific economies in the future. In any case, the need to diversify its economy in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and the protracted Eurozone Crisis has meant that Turkey is now looking elsewhere to fill the gap that Europe and the United States cannot. To that end, Turkey is investing in deeper relations with India, Indonesia and South Africa.

Key findings:

  • Turkey’s geopolitical region can be a limiting factor in its economic growth. Between an unstable Middle East and an economically fragile Europe, Turkey must look beyond its immediate neighbourhood to maintain its rate of growth.
  • Capitalising successfully on the opportunities offered by rising economies in the Indo-Pacific region may facilitate Turkey’s own future economic growth and domestic stability. Turkey’s Indo-Pacific strategy, therefore, is to extend its influence and trading opportunities.
  • This flurry of activity can benefit Australia. With an expansion of the Turkish economy and trade, Australia can use historical and cultural links to bolster its trading partnership.
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