Turkey's Export Master Plan to be announced in August

Turkey's Export Master Plan, an important part of the government's reform agenda aimed at boosting exports, will be announced in August. According to Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, the plan was previously said to determine long-term export potential and put forward a sustainable strategy to multiply exports. It will also lay out strategies to ensure a sustainable increase in the export-to-import ratio. The aim is also to increase the exports of high-value-added products and boost unit prices. In a meeting with a group of journalists on Sunday, Pekcan said they were carrying out works related to the plan and they will disclose it to the public in August. She added that they are assessing how viable the suggestions are at this stage.

Recording $88.2 billion in the first half of this year, a 2.18 percent year-on-year increase, Turkey's exports hit the highest figure in its history, Pekcan announced earlier this month.

Imports, on the other hand, dropped by 20.3 percent on a yearly basis to reach $102.2 billion in the January-June period - based on the general trade system, according to data by the Trade Ministry.

The foreign trade gap narrowed to $13.96 billion in the January-June period. The country's foreign trade volume fell by 11.3 percent to $190.4 billion from January to June.

On the other hand, the exports coverage ratio to imports reached 86.3 percent in the January-June period, up from 67.3 percent in the same period last year.

In 2018, Turkey's exports hit an all-time high of $167.9 billion, while the figure was nearly $157 billion in the previous year, according to official data.

Over the last decade, the highest annual export-to-import ratio was recorded last year at 75.3 percent, while Turkey's foreign trade deficit fell from $106 billion in 2011 to $55 billion in 2018.

Touching on the global economic slowdown, Pekcan stated, "The trend has fallen from 3.6 to 3.3. However, it appears to be revised further. It is 1.3 in Europe, but Germany itself has revised it to 0.4. Therefore, the country we export the most to is Germany, followed by the U.K. So, it will definitely affect us indirectly. As such, we are working on how to develop new markets, new products and new strategies. However, by maintaining our strength and relationships in the market where we are present, we are collaborating with our companies. We are producing strategies with companies individually."

Underlining that the Brexit process is important for Turkey, the minister indicated that Turkey is one of the countries that would be most affected in the case of failure of the Brexit process. She reminded that they produced strategies with U.K. Trade Minister Liam Fox during his visit to Turkey last month.

Recalling that the Trade Ministry is currently working on eight draft laws, Pekcan noted the Wholesale Vegetable and Fruit Markets Law has long remained on the agenda since it has many stakeholders with too many suggestions and too much opposition.

"We are working by listening to all our stakeholders. We are holding meetings not only with trade stakeholders but also with institutions and organizations from other ministries. The works have been finalized on our side. Not only the Wholesale Vegetable and Fruit Markets Law but also our work on electronic checks and product safety audits has been completed. We have a 21-item work on retail law and customs. Our draft study on specialized free zones and the Competition Law has been completed," the minister said.

According to Pekcan, the Trade Ministry has been working on cooperatives to extend the cooperative system in Turkey to render it transparent, manageable and controllable and enable it to receive financial support as much as possible. Pointing out that producer organizations can ally with cooperatives under the Wholesale Vegetable and Fruit Markets Law that stipulates supporting producer organizations. "When a good cooperative system is formed, producer organizations will be strengthened as well," she underlined.

*Barış Şimşek

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