President Tayyip Erdogan has underlined during a visit to Beijing that even though China is Turkey's third biggest trade partner, Ankara has a long way to go for that trade volume to be balanced.
"In 2000, the trade deficit between Turkey and China was $1.24 billion in China's favour. This figure has been boosted to [a] $22 billion [deficit for Turkey] today," Erdogan told Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Turkey-China Business Forum guests Thursday.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, the value of Turkish goods purchased by China in 2000 stood at just $1 million, while just around $927 million in goods flowed to China in the first five months of this year.
"We need to put together a mutual effort to balance this number," Erdogan stated.
The three-day trip -- of which Thursday was the last day -- was Erdogan's second diplomatic visit to the country, following a previous trip in 2012 as prime minister.
Since his first election win of 2003, diplomatic relations -- established between the two countries in 1971 -- have significantly improved, peaking over the last 10 years through several high-level bilateral visits.
In 2010, the two countries adopted a “Joint Declaration on the Establishment and Development of the Strategic Relationship of Cooperation,” and bilateral trade -- at $1 billion in 2000 -- is now estimated to have surpassed more then $24 billion, although -- as Erdogan underlined this trip -- a vast majority of that trade was in China's favor.
On Thursday, the Turkish leader talked of a "mutual political determination" to enhance relations between the two countries, adding that "the governments will offer businessmen every kind of opportunity to promote and support" to boost that trade volume.
To help facilitate this, he said the countries need to focus on more Yuan and Lira trade and avoid reliance on the U.S. dollar.
"We need to take a step to avoid exchange rate pressures," Erdogan said. "We discussed making more trade in Turkish Lira and Chinese Yuan in our meetings."
The president also touched on the building of a "Turkey-China University" to facilitate language tuition, highlighted the importance of tourism between the two countries, and said that Turkish Airlines (THY) wants to add eight more destinations in China to its flight paths.
THY currently flies to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou from Turkey, seven times a week.
"We want to boost the number of Chinese tourists visiting Turkey, which stood at 200,000 at the end of 2014," Erdogan said, stating that around 100 million Chinese took vacations overseas last year.
On June 29, Turkey was among 50 countries to attend the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which aims to provide financial assistance for infrastructure projects in Asia
Erdogan underlined that Turkey is the 11th biggest shareholder in the bank with $2.6 billion capital and voting rights of 2.48 percent.
For his part, China's leader Xi hailed Turkey's nuclear power plant plans and said "China wants to play an active role."
Following the event, Erdogan and his party travelled to Beijing airport where they caught a flight to Indonesia.
The president was accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu and Transport Minister Feridun Bilgin.
Germany is Turkey's first biggest trade partner, followed by Russia and China.
* Anadolu Agency correspondents Satuk Bugra Kutlugun and Gokhan Kurtaran contributed to this story from Ankara and London respectively.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.