After a lull of a few years, the Turkish textiles and apparel industry is on an upswing. The investment climate is positive, though some uncertainty remains. Jozef De Coster reports from Istanbul.

In the middle of April this year, the Tuyap Fair and Conference Cenre in Istanbul hosted four simultaneous textile events: the 34th International Textile Machinery Fair (ITM), the 7th International Technical Textiles and Nonwovens Exhibition (Hightex), the 15th Istanbul Yarn Fair, and the 8th International Textile Conference (ETT) organised by the Marmara University. The conclusion drawn from the four events was clear: the current investment and business climate in the Turkish textiles and apparel sector is positive. However, the future remains a bit marred by uncertainty.

The Istanbul Yarn Expo learned that Turkey's spinning sector is more resilient than Europe's. While much of the spinning capacities of the European countries has disappeared, Turkey is still an important yarn producer and exporter, both of cotton yarn and synthetic yarn. Last year, Turkish yarn exports amounted to $1.6 billion, with Italy, the UK, Belgium and Iran being the biggest customers. Cotton yarns represent somewhat less than 30 per cent of Turkey's total yarn exports, while synthetic yarns (filament yarns and staple fibres) add up to 70 per cent.

Turkey's imports of yarn are much bigger than its exports. In 2016, Turkey imported about $3 billion worth of spinning products. The main countries of origin were China ($682 million), India ($552 million) and Indonesia ($322 million). Turkey is mostly importing synthetic yarn. The country's cotton yarn imports in 2016 were less than 18 per cent of the total yarn imports.

Machinery exhibitors confirm investment surge

Investments in the Turkish textiles sector, which over the last few years were weak, are now strongly increasing. Not only have Turkish textile manufacturers said so, but Adil Nalbant, president of Temsad (Turkish Textile Machinery Industrialists Association) has affirmed as much. From spinning to garment manufacturing, the entire supply chain is jacking up capacities. Among the ongoing investments is that of the leading nylon and polyester yarn, tire cord manufacturer Kordsa, which is investing in a 7,000 tonne polyester yarn capacity in its Izmir factory. Betting that the positive investment climate will continue, Turkish fair organiser Tuyap is expecting a record number of exhibitors (430) and visitors (more than 40,000) at the coming Istanbul Clothing Machinery Fair in September.

Johan Verstraete, vice-president (marketing, sales & service weaving machines) at Picanol, said that on the first day of ITM 2018 Picanol hosted more visitors than in all four days of the previous edition of ITM. The Belgian Picanol Group is a leading producer of rapier and airjet weaving machines of which the consolidated turnover in 2017 was €640 million, while net profit amounted to €91.6 million. According to Picanol sales director Kurt Lamkowski, rapier weaving is still the main technology for Turkey, while China, India and Pakistan are the main airjet markets.