By Ruhsar Pekcan
To the bewilderment of many analysts, data released this month has revealed that Turkey’s "real" economy is thriving.
Despite recent headlines decrying dire economic straits, our exports – a crucial indicator – saw record-breaking growth in September. Our industries are manufacturing more goods and products, and our companies are providing more services. This is true for our new markets as well as our traditional trading markets. That’s Turkey’s real economy. That means jobs and currency flows.
In September 2018, we recorded a 23 percent year-on-year increase – $14.5 billion in exports for the month. And compared to September 2017, exports to the European Union increased by nearly a quarter, and exports to East Asia rose by 80 percent.
While Turkey is best known for a few top industries – our automotive and appliance industries, for example – the upsurge in exports is not limited to these sectors. It is broad-based: automotive exports are up by more than 21 percent, but agriculture also is up by 16.5 percent, apparel by nearly 14 percent, and steel – despite the tariff war waged by the United States – is up 104 percent.
It should be apparent that numbers like these don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of effective economic management and, most importantly, the result of the ingenuity of Turkish workers and the business community. We are equipped to withstand market fluctuations, as well as hostile acts against our economy that are either politically motivated or driven by misguided trade policies.
Our business partners and international consumers are as engaged with us as they always have been. Our exports to the U.S. are up by 10 percent from January to July 2018 compared with the same period in 2017. European Union countries share our desire for a rules-based trade order and this is being expressed through high trade volume and reinforced partnerships. For instance, during a recent trip to Germany that included Turkey’s president, finance minister, myself, other officials and private sector leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel tasked her economy minister with leading a business delegation to Turkey at the end of this month.
Yet we know that forging relationships alone isn’t enough. Our government has been doing the hard work of helping to raise awareness about what Turkey’s manufacturers have to offer. We’ve made a concerted effort to increase promotion of Turkish-made products and projects internationally. I have been trade minister for three months and for one and half of those months, I’ve been on the road: pitching Turkey’s industries, products, and goods to our target markets.
Our goal is to reach $500 billion in exports by 2023. It’s ambitious – global trade is a competitive arena. But we’re committed, and September’s numbers reveal that our prospects are strong and our approach is paying off.
In a recent Financial Times article, an economist dubbed our “quicker and stronger” export-led recovery “curious.” We don’t mind sparking curiosity. The reality behind our success, however, is decidedly less curious.
Ruhsar Pekcan is Turkey’s Minister of Trade.
Opinions expressed in View articles are solely those of the author.