Interview with Textiles Department

Textiles Department
Textiles Department
Prime Ministry Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade
Republic of Turkey
Republic of Turkey

How is the sector faring on the exports front? (Kindly provide statistics)

In 2006, Turkish textile and clothing exports totaled 19.7 Billion US Dollars an increase of 4%. Share of textile exports reached 8.1 Billion US Dollars an increase of 8% and clothing exports touched 11.6 Billion US Dollars an increase of 2%.

On the other hand, for the period of January- November 2007, textile and clothing exports amounted to 21 Billion Dollars taking a share of 22% of total exports. During this period, Turkish textile exports reached 8.6 Billion US Dollars an increase of 19% and clothing exports increased to 12.3 Billion US Dollars an increase of 18%.

On the bilateral trade and economic relations between Turkey and other countries, do you view room for more FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) and PTAs (Preferential Trade Agreements) to boost its economy specially, in the textiles and apparel sectors?

The Customs Union between Turkey and the EU, which entered into force on 1 January 1996, constitutes the legal basis of Turkey’s FTAs and obliges Turkey to align itself progressively with the preferential customs regime of the Community. This alignment will concern both the autonomous regimes and preferential agreements with third countries.

Consequently, due to its obligations stemming from the Custom Union, Turkey will align itself with the EU’s preferential trade policy towards third countries.

In this respect, considering the EU’s new preferential trade strategy, namely 'Global Europe' towards new countries or country groups, such as South Korea, India, Ukraine, ASEAN, ANDEAN, there is certainly room for more FTAs for Turkey. Also, in an attempt to boost its trade with third countries, Turkey takes active role in regional organisations such as 'Organisation of Islamic Conference' and 'Organisation of Black Sea Economic Cooperation' as well.

In this context, Turkey’s foreign trade with third countries has increased between 2000 and 2006. In the said period, while Turkey’s foreign trade with third countries increased by 166%, the rate of increase with FTA partners was 222%. With regard to textiles and apparel sector, this increase has been even higher than the general trend. Especially, in trade with the Euro-Mediterranean countries, Turkey’s exports to countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria showed significant increase thanks to the Pan-Euro-Med diagonal cumulation of origin system.

On the other hand, in the framework of its preferential trade agreements, Turkey has also opened its market to the third countries as well. Therefore, Turkish textiles and apparel industry turned out to be much competitive due to imports from third countries.

Past two years have witnessed Turkish apparel industry on the decline. (down 18 percent according to industry experts report). What according to you are the reasons?

It is true that in the past two years, clothing sector experienced a recession period. The rate of the increase in clothing exports has declined due to the changes in the international clothing trade. For example, while the increase rate in clothing exports was 13 % in 2004, it has declined to 6 % in 2005 and 2 % in 2006.

The reason of the decline can be explained by both the changes of conditions in international trade and also the trends and economic performance of the major importing markets. As the most important factor, the complete elimination of quotas in 2005, paved the way for the East Asian countries enter the major markets where Turkey has been enjoying preferential market access, like EU.

It can be comfortably said that, the sustainable competitiveness of the clothing sector has recovered in 2007. It was a year of success that Turkish clothing exports increased to 123 Billion Dollars in the first 11 months. The increase rate was recorded as 18 %.

What prospects do you envisage during the coming decades for leather market in clothing & accessories?

The Turkish leather industry is a giant production branch which takes it roots beyond the centuries.Today, with its organized leather industrial zones in Tuzla, Menemen and Çorlu, which have water treatment plants, leather production facilities in Bursa, Usak, Gerede, Gaziantep and various leather garment workshops and factories.

Because of its quality, fast and flexible production, nearly all of the world famous brands leather collections are being produced in Turkey. Leather and fur garment industry, presently exports very large amount of its production.

The competitive advantages of Turkish leather and fur garment industry in international competititon are:

-Ability and gathered experience in exportation -Fast production-delivery capabilities of orders and production flexibility -Variety and avaliability of quality raw materials -Developed fashion and design skills -Experience and quality in fur producing

As all of the other industries, leather sector will have to overcome some challenges due to severe competition in the global markets, in the following years. The sector has to generate policies for its adaptation and sustain its performance.

With the aims of promoting Turkish Leather both in domestic and foreign markets, forming a marketing, market development and promotion strategy to accelerate exports of Turkish leather leather products and footwear industries; increasing their market share beginning with export markets, establishing the Turkish leather image in the world, organising permanent activities in research and development, promotion, and branding, 'Turkish Leather Council' (TLC) has been founded in the year 2005.

TLC was established with the support of the companies active in the leather industry, with the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat coordination, under the organisation of Istanbul Leather and Leather Products Exporters’ Association and the Aegean Leather and Leather Products Exporters’ Association.

A parting message for our millions of readers, members & investors across the globe?

We believe that Turkey will continue to be one of the countries leading world textile trade by combining all her competitive advantages, even challenging China in some segments such as with high value added and brand oriented products and in the forthcoming days.

Published on: 28/01/2008

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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