Faced by the loss of their traditional export markets because of political and security problems in their neighbourhood, Turkish textile companies are looking to penetrate into new markets to sustain their export growth.
At the ongoing four-day Heimtextil show of Frankfurt in Germany, the world’s biggest trade fair for the home-textile and contract textile industry, Turkish exhibitors are trying to intensify their links to Malaysia and the Asean markets.
Turkey, as Turkish exhibitors and representatives of various textile and garment associations were saying, is surrounded by a violent neighbourhood: a war-ravaged Syria, an unstable Iraq and a sanction-plagued Russia.
The number of Turkish exhibitors at the show has sharply increased from 159 in 2015 to 211 in 2016.
M Atilla Bulut, the deputy general coordinator (fairs) of the Turkish Home Textile Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, said in an interview at the show that Turkish exhibitors occupy the second largest display space - about 16,000sq-m - after Germany.
“Our advantage over China is our proximity to Europe - we know and understand Europe’s needs and are familiar with the region’s economic and cultural idiosyncrasies. Turkey has a problem on its borders with Syria, Iraq and Russia, even though it has no internal security problem,” Bulut told Bernama .
As a result, Turkish exporters are forced to look for markets beyond their borders, to South-East Asia, where the Asean Economic Community (AEC) was recently formed.
Malaysia, as one of the so-called ‘core countries’ of the community, is seen as an attractive market by many Turkish exporters, some of whom said they plan to visit Malaysia and other Asean countries in the near future to promote their exports.
2015 exports worth RM88 billion
Turkey’s total global textile exports in 2015 amounted to US$14 billion (RM88.33 billion), of which home textiles accounted for US$3 billion. Turkey’s home-textile exports in 2014 amounted to US$3.3 billion.
The 2015 shortfall in exports is attributed to the crisis in Russia, which has faced huge sanctions because of the Ukraine crisis, resulting in less buying by its consumers who could not afford to buy more from the US.
“We are looking at markets such as Japan, the Asean region and Canada,” Bulut said.
Turkey is also organising its own textile trade fair called Evteks, the Istanbul International Home Textiles Exhibition, on May 17-21.
”We are launching a promotional campaign to attract buyers from Europe, the Asean region and other Asian countries,” he added.
Luks Kadife T/C Ve San, AS, of Istanbul, which manufactures curtains, upholstery and fabric material for garments, is already exporting to Malaysia and has built up contacts over the year.
However, the company is now keen to increase its exports to Malaysia and other Asean countries in the face of uncertainties in other markets. It has been shipping mainly to the United States, the European Union and the Middle Eastern and North African countries.
“Though our business with Malaysia has been smaller than with our major markets, we consider Malaysia a stable country. China is passing through turbulent economic times. We expect Malaysia, along with Singapore and Indonesia, to grow in the future.
“We are going to actively increase our contacts with the Malaysian textile sector. Some 30 percent of our production is sold in the domestic market while 70 percent is exported,” general manager Feramin Celiktas told Bernama .
Osman Canik, the chairperson of the Uludag Turkish Exporters’ Association and the vice-president of Elvin Tekstil San Vetic AS, headquartered in Turkey’s textile city Bursa, pointed out that some 1.5 billion potential consumers live within its reach in the direct neighbourhood.
Canik expressed hope the war in Syria would soon end and the reconstruction of the country would begin immediately so that hotels, buildings and other infrastructure could be constructed, generating demand for home and other textiles.
He said there will be some “good news” in regard to Syria in the second half of 2016.
“The slowdown in Europe has adversely affected our business but it is improving gradually. Our major markets are Europe and the Middle East, but we are exporting to the USA, South America and the Far East,” Canik said, emphasising after the latest deadly bomb attack in Istanbul that Turkey is a “very safe and hospitable place, as any other place elsewhere”.