Building bridges: Gaziantep – United Kingdom

Turkey is enhancing its export power with a new initiative. The country’s 10 leading industrial cities are paired with its 10 largest export markets, Gaziantep and the UK making the first step in future partnerships

Turkey is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of textile and agricultural products, transportation vehicles, machinery, construction materials and consumer electronics. This year Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) has launched an ambitious project with the view of achieving its 2023 goal, namely 500 billion dollars in exports. The new initiative is aimed at connecting 10 Turkish cities with 10 biggest world markets and enhancing trade and economic relations between Turkey and its long-term partners. The first conference within the project framework was held in Gaziantep on May 3, organised by TIM Academy and supported by Global Connection, Turkishtime magazine, Vodafone, Halkbank, Coface Insurance and UPS. Gaziantep, an economic centre of Southeastern Turkey with the largest industrial area in the country, is world-famous for its pistachios, copperware and traditional Yemeni sandals. It is also one of the global leaders in machine production of carpets and rugs. Within the framework of the ’10 cities – 10 countries’ project, Gaziantep is paired with the UK, one of Turkey’s leading export markets.

ENVER KANNUR, Board member of the Turkish-English Trade and Industry Chamber

“The UK’s investments in Turkey equal 46 billion and Turkey’s investments in UK equal 2 billion dollars. As we can see, there is room for growth. Also in my view, exporters from Gaziantep have not considered the UK as a priority market because there are such neighbours as Syria, Iran and Iraq. It is easier to trade with them both in terms of logistics and mutual understanding. The UK was somehow left out but with a little effort this market can grow considerably. The leading investments in the UK are R&D, universities and e-commerce while for example there is a great need in food sector investment, and this is exactly where Gaziantep can step in.”

RAGIP BALCIOĞLU, Vice-President of Arçelik

“The UK has always supported Turkey, especially in the European society. This support is also reflected in the trade. Today UK’s greatest trade partner is continental Europe. Turkey needs to benefit from this friendship and openness in the relations between two countries and promote itself with products that can offer outstanding quality and innovation. If you have conducted the right promotion, the UK market is ready. Turkey should also be ready to invest in the UK market because, especially during the past few years, the UK has been providing exceptionally beneficial conditions for investors from all over the world and Turkey as well. We should draw benefits from these conditions. In this perspective, our relationship is developing positively.”

EMRE ÖZER, the CEO of Coface Insurance

“The important thing is that we are not exporting to the UK what UK consumers really need. We have a great export ratio in the manufacturing sector but when it comes to domestic consumption and especially services, the export is considerably lower. Gaziantep exports certain local products but there is also high potential in automotive and ready-made clothes sectors. We are now expecting considerable growth in these areas to all European countries including the UK.”

CHRIS GAUNT, Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Turkey

“Due to its geographical position, Turkey offers a platform for growth in emerging markets and its experience doing business in Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, obviously offers a great deal of value to UK companies who probably would think twice before embarking on those markets alone. What we promote is finding a good Turkish partner in order to do business not just in Turkey but also in the region because you shouldn’t underestimate the historical trading links that Turkey has with this part of the world. It’s also true that Turkey has got a very strong skill set in engineering and construction. Turkish companies are the leading construction companies in the region. There is plenty of strong educated work force in the country, there are innovative thinkers, and new generations are coming out of the universities who have not only Turkish but also global awareness, they know what’s going on. The UK companies have to understand that when you come to Turkey to do business, Istanbul is a developed market requiring a mature market tool kit. You’re dealing with high-quality professional people in Istanbul. It may not be the same in other Anatolian cities where companies would rather benefit from an emerging market tool kit. The slogan from TİM ‘Discover the potential’; that’s exactly it. What the UK companies got to do is to discover the potential.”