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Exports: success breeds progress

Article - October 2, 2014
Further increasing Turkey’s share in global trade and increasing the value of exports is a top priority for the government.
Double-digit export growth drove Turkey’s economy through seven consecutive years of economic expansion prior to the 2009 financial crisis and also helped it come back quicker and stronger. Even as Europe and the United States struggled in recession, Turkey’s exports rebounded as early as 2010, and the country hasn’t looked back since. Continued momentum in at least the next five years, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, give policymakers good reason to be optimistic on reaching the government’s long-term goal of breaking the $500-billion export threshold by 2023 and becoming one of the top 10 developed economies in the world.

“We have agriculture and intermediary industries, which are in high-demand from developing countries around us. That alone can bring Turkey into the top 10, but we need to do a lot in order to achieve this.”

Dr. Suat Kıroğlu, Vice-Chairman of Kingspan İzopoli
Last year, exports rose to $158 billion. Even more impressive is the long-term trend: Turkey’s export sector has seen average annual gains of 8 percent over the past decade. “As long as the export volume increases, the country’s economy will continue to grow,” according to Şahin Oktay, Coordinator of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM). “Until recently,” he continues, “we were concerned about the global crises especially in the EU countries, which are the major markets we export to. However, the recent recovery in the EU economies has restored our hopes for a further surge in export volumes. The trade relations between Turkey and the EU contributed a lot to the growth and development of our country. The UK, specifically, has been one of our core markets to which we would like to increase our exports.”

If exports have been the engine of Turkey’s economy, its defense industry has been the fuel that propels it forward. The evolution in this sector has been truly phenomenal over the last five to 10 years. From a trade value of roughly $1.8 billion in 2006, it has risen to over $5 billion in 2013. In addition, the Turkish defense sector exports to over 60 countries around the world, with a total value of over $1 billion in 2012.

“The Turkish armed forces are large enough to support a base industry, but we do not want to stay at that base – we want to increase. So the only way is to export,” says Nail Kurt, CEO of FNSS Defence Systems. “A happy customer is the best kind of marketing,” he adds, “You cannot fool customers in this sector. You are face to face with the customer. The only way you can make them happy is to work with them.”

The strength of Turkey’s export industry lies in the diversity of businesses within its ranks. A global leader in prefabricated construction panels, Kingspan İzopoli takes advantage of Turkey’s strategic geographic location. “Our fire safety and insulation products are widely used in quick prefabrication and construction, which you needed after the war in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Palestine and anything over the past 15 years in the whole of the Middle East,” says Vice-Chairman Dr Suat Kıroğlu.

“I think we are the only company in Turkey that sells products to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, or Israel and Palestine. So commercially, you will find solutions much easier than you would politically.”