Businessmen: Turkey to see $150 bln in exports by year-end

January 03, 2012, Tuesday/ 18:10:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

At a time of persistent uncertainties over the health of the world’s economy, which are mostly centered in Europe, Turkish businessmen have expressed confidence that 2012 will be another year of rapid export growth for the country with an almost $150 billion year-end target likely to be met.

Turkey earned nearly $135 billion in export revenue last year, the highest in its history and also up by over 18 percent compared to a year earlier. As was the case in previous years, its exports were mainly motor vehicles, chemicals, metals and textiles. The government is vying to bring Turkey’s export volume up to $149 billion this year, taking another step toward meeting a $500 billion target in 2023, the centennial of the modern republic, which was founded following the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

“What we know is that we have reached an all-time high in export volume. This is certainly excellent, but we should not see this as being sufficient and must raise the bar of success,” said Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) President Ömer Cihad Vardan, in remarks to the Anatolia news agency on Tuesday. The $149 billion target this year is likely to be met, according to him.

Turkey’s export volume was only $35 billion in 2001. The numbers, therefore, indicate that the country nearly quadrupled its export earnings in a decade. This is a rarely seen performance for a country that in the meantime has not found a wealthy energy resource but has opened up to new and largely untapped markets, such as Africa, while growing stronger in its traditional markets overseas. Also speaking to Anatolia, Central Anatolia Machinery and Accessories Exporters’ Union (Makinebirlik) President Adnan Dalgakıran asserted that Turkey must at the same time continue tackling its foreign trade deficit, which recently spiked to some 15 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). “With new incentives [particularly] for R&D investments, Turkey will make strides on that front as well,” he said. Like Vardan, he agrees that $150 billion in export revenue at the end of 2012 is a likely prospect. “More than 40 percent of Turkey’s exports head to Europe. So if no major problem emerges in Europe, we may increase our exports more than expected and bring them up to $150 billion this year,” he said. Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan on Monday said an important incentive package would be announced before the end of the month. “We are working on this very intensely and diligently,” he said in Ankara. The package is expected to facilitate domestic and foreign investment in certain fields where Turkish industries are dependent on foreign suppliers.

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