SENATE President Franklin Drilon on Friday sought for the expansion of investment and trade relations between the Philippines and Turkey.

Drilon, who attended the Grand National Assemble of Turkey with Senate economic affairs committee chairman Joseph Victor Ejercito, met Speaker Cemil Cicek and Deputy Minister Bulent Arinc “to discuss ways of strengthening the diplomatic relations and partnership between the two countries.”

The two senators’ visit coincided with the 65th year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Turkey.

Drilon said he is confident that his talks with Turkey officials will pave way for more investment opportunities for the country in the near future.

“I am glad to have had the chance to promote the country to the government of Turkey. Fortunately, we have succeeded in convincing them that investment is more fun in the Philippines,” Drilon said.

“There is a mutual understanding between the two countries for the need to improve their relationship, particularly on areas of trade and tourism where both nations are seen to equally benefit,” he added.

The Senate President said that during his talks with the Turkey officials, they have agreed on the importance of activating the Philippines-Turkey Joint Economic Commission (JEC) in order to continuously monitor, review, and promote the bilateral activities between the two countries.

Drilon said there are lot of opportunities for trade and investment the two countries can explore.

He said the area in which the Turkey has gained interest in is the country’s booming tourism and leisure industries, particularly its resorts and beaches.

On the other hand, Turkey is promoting its religious, cultural, and historical sites.

Given this, there can be an increase of around $250-million investment from Turkey.

Drilon urged the Department of Trade and Industry to coordinate with its counterpart in Turkey to schedule immediately the inaugural meeting of the JEC.

“We are confident that in the next few years, we will see an enhanced trade activity between the two countries. The Philippines has a lot to offer to Turkey, particularly in terms of educated and skilled workforce,” said Drilon.

“Turkey is significant partner if we want to increase our foreign direct investments and expand job opportunities for our countrymen,” he added.

In October, Turkish businessmen will have a trade mission in the country organized by Philippine Ambassador to Turkey Maria Rowena Sanchez.

In order to continue the relations that both parliaments have promoted, Drilon designated Ejercito as the president of the Philippines-Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The Turkish government contributed to the peace process in Mindanao and provided assistance to the victims of super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that wreaked havoc in Visayas in 2013.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu visited the country in November last year as he discussed bilateral, regional, and international matters with President Benigno Aquino III.(Sunnex)