Erdogan on official visit to Algeria to bolster commercial ties
ALGIERS - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a delegation of cabinet ministers and business people arrived in Algeria Wednesday for a visit aimed at improving commercial ties, Algiers said.
The trip is part of Ankara's efforts to shift its international focus to the Arab and Islamic world in light of the delay in its bid to join the European Union, the Algerian trade ministry said.
During the two-day visit a forum of business people will take place.
Algeria is Turkey's principal trading partner in Africa, and the two countries signed a friendship and cooperation treaty in 2006.
They also have a contract under which Algeria sells gas to Turkey as its fourth-largest supplier. The arrangement expires this year, and a new 10-year pact is being sought.
Combined trade between the countries totalled $4.4 billion (3.5 billion euros) in 2012. Of that, Algeria exported $2.6 billion in goods, $1.7 billion of which was in hydrocarbons and derivatives.
As prime minister, Erdogan visited Algeria last year and pressed for total trade to be increased rapidly to $10 billion a year.
The two countries have a long history of ties. Today's Algeria was a regency under the Ottoman Empire from 1518 until the middle of the 19th century, when France occupied the country.