“China’s use of new technologies in urban development constitutes a valuable experience for Izmir which is open to projects with Chinese companies,” Tunc Soyer, Mayor of the third largest city of Turkey made the remarks in an interview.

“There is great partnership potentials between Izmir and Chinese cities and companies. The potential is really there regarding technologies and intelligent cities, and we have to grab and use it,” Soyer told.

He was speaking within the framework of the 88th International Izmir Trade Fair, which some 60 Chinese companies are attending this year since last and where China is the partner country.

“We are actually communicating with Chinese companies on a mono rail project that we want to construct in our city. We have a lot to learn from the Chinese experience, every time I travel to China in the last decade, I am marvelled by the amazing transformation in cities such as Beijing or Shanghai,” the mayor pointed out.

“I am convinced that China will play a locomotive role on the global level for decades to come and we are seeking in this context meaningful, sustainable and balanced partnerships with its companies to develop our city,” he said.

Soyer hoped that the Izmir fair, held annually since 1927, would prove a good opportunity for participating Chinese firms to present their diverse products to Turkish companies.

“I really hope that this fair would turn into a mechanism that will yield new business partnerships and deals between our peoples because, in the end, it is them who are decisive in bridging the cultural differences between countries,” he remarked.

The major also indicated that Izmir, which is the main port city of the Aegean region, could serve as a logistics hub within the context of the China-proposed Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) to transport goods from the East to European countries.

Soyer remarked that the hub port project in the nearby Candarli district, within the framework of the maritime branch of the BRI and with its increasing container and freight potential, could be a profitable investment for China.

“Izmir presents advantages in his field since Turkey has a customs union agreement with the European Union,” Soyer said.

Izmir and the fertile lands of the Aegean region present enriching opportunities for China and could become a tourist destination for its citizens, said Soyer.

“We have various range of products that can be of interest to China. Besides cherries, we can export other agricultural products, and we are ready for this,” he noted.

Turkish cherry growers from the Aegean enjoyed this year a record boost in exports to China thanks to easier access to the Chinese market following the lift of custom restrictions.

On the cultural level, Soyer said that he was really keen to see a Chinese cultural centre, a Chinese university and a Chinese technology research centre established in Izmir to promote a bond between the peoples of the two countries.

“We are open to China and its citizens and we are very excited to reach out for partnership opportunities that will cement our cooperation,” the major added.