A number of business chambers, think tanks, civil society organizations and journalists believe that the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border will help the economic development of the people living in Armenia and the eastern provinces of Turkey.
A group of Turkish and Armenian journalists and bloggers who travelled across Turkey and Armenia via Georgia between Oct. 13 and 26 in order to gain firsthand insight into their neighbors say the closed border between Turkey and Armenia is negatively affecting relations between the two countries, advocating the reopening of the border, which will improve the process of normalization.
While hosting the Armenian and Turkish journalists, Fethiye Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FTSO) President Akif Arıcan said trade is one of the main signs of peace between countries. Speaking to the group, Arıcan said opening the border will help the Turkish-Armenian normalization process. Trade between Armenia and Turkey is conducted via Georgia or Iran, Arıcan added. When asked by an Armenian journalist about direct trade between the two countries, Arıcan said FTSO may ask the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) to initiate this process with the Turkish government.
As soon as diplomatic relations between the two governments improve, the Caucasus region can be a good environment for businessmen of Turkey to access China via Armenia and Azerbaijan, Sak added.
Trade between the two countries takes place through a roundabout way via Georgia and Iran. The invoice is issued in Georgia as companies in Turkey are not authorized to make an invoice with an Armenian address. In addition to large-scale merchandise and products, shuttle trade is quite a visible activity between Turkey and Armenia. There are no records in official Turkish statistical publications regarding trade with Armenia. According to unofficial estimates by the Turkish side, trade volume between the two countries is $150-200 million.
According to data from the National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia as of January 2011, imports from Turkey to Armenia amounted to $98 million while exports from Armenia to Turkey amounted to $551,000.
The most profitable import items from Turkey to Armenia in 2009 were metals and items made of metal, various types of textile, wood and wood items, soap, cleaning and hygienic items, lotions and other cosmetic items, aluminum and aluminum items, electrical machinery and appliances, recording devices and their parts, glass and glassware, furniture and ceramics.
The most profitable import items from Armenia to Turkey were aluminum and aluminum items, raw hide and processed leather, railroad equipment, textile and clothing items, except machine and hand embroidery and tapestries.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan after Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan in 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In 2009, the Zurich Protocols to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia were signed but not ratified, and the border remains closed.