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Turkey seeks Gulf cash for $20 billion bet on transit trade: report

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will seek financing from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to build as much as $23.5 billion in transport links connecting Asia to Europe via his country during a visit to the Gulf this week, Bloomberg reported.

The projects he’ll discuss include a rail and road network from Iraq’s Faw port on the Persian Gulf to the Turkish border in the north and a railway across Istanbul’s Bosporus Strait bridging the two continents, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloğlu told Bloomberg in Ankara on Tuesday.

“We’re talking about $8 billion-$10 billion of investment in the first phase which would increase to about $20 billion,” he said of the Iraq project, dubbed the Development Road. The Bosporus rail link is expected to cost $3 billion-$3.5 billion, he added.

Erdoğan is scheduled to visit the UAE later Thursday and will attend the COP28 climate summit there, before heading to Qatar early next week. The UAE has previously said it’s interested in investments in Turkey’s logistics, energy, tourism and agriculture sectors, without specifying individual projects.

Once a stop on the ancient Silk Road, Turkey is vying to become a conduit for exports to Europe amid growing competition over trade routes.

Uraloğlu said the Development Road would be shorter than a rival Mideast-India trade corridor announced by the US in September, though cargo demand could be sufficient to support both projects.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are involved in a US-backed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, while China has already expanded its influence across the energy-rich region with its Belt and Road infrastructure investments.

Turkey is also hoping to reach a deal with Gulf Arab countries to jointly operate the Alsancak Port in the Aegean city of İzmir.

“We’re holding talks with the Gulf region. This won’t be a sale but a partnership,” Uraloğlu said. “There could be a development there soon.”

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