Singapore, Thursday, 30 April 2009 - Singapore companies should consider Turkey as a gateway to the markets of Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, so said members of a visiting Turkish business delegation, led by Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), at a seminar on business opportunities in Turkey today.
The event, organized by the Singapore Business Federation in partnership with DEIK, marked the first visit of a Turkish business delegation since SBF's inaugural mission to Turkey in 2004. That mission was held in conjunction with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's official state visit to Turkey.
Present for this event were His Excellency Mr. Ahmet Bülent Meriç, the Ambassador of Turkey to Singapore; 13 members of the Turkish business delegation led by Mr. M. Pinar Aran, Head of Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) Delegation and; 52 local business representatives from the manufacturing, oil & gas, agri-business, financial, engineering and construction sectors. Turkish business experts - Mr. Hasan YalçIn, Deputy Director General, Under-secretariat for Foreign Trade; Mr. Ismail Bitirim, Senior Project Director, Prime Ministry Investment Support & Promotion Agency and; Mr. Selami Genç, President, Singapore-Turkey Business Association - gave their take on prospects and key concerns on doing business in Turkey as well as an update of the country's emerging industries and business opportunities brought about by the latest economic developments and overall market dynamics in Turkey.
Singapore and Turkey can leverage each other's strong points to enhance trading opportunities. Singapore companies can tap on Turkey's good networking contacts in the oil and gas rich Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and strategic location between Asia and Europe, which serves as a good entry point into the European market. Turkey is also a good sourcing market for Singapore businesses given that it is Europe's biggest manufacturer of glass, TV and fertilizer; and has strong textile & clothing manufacturing capabilities. They can also explore market and franchising opportunities in the textile & clothing, education services, automotive parts, infrastructure, ICT and hospitality sectors, and bank on Turkey's good impression of Singaporean brand names, known to be reliable and of high quality.
On the other hand, Turkish firms can use Singapore as a hub and an entry point to Asian markets, given Singapore's strategic location in ASEAN and excellent bilateral ties with many Asian countries.
His Excellency Mr. Ahmet Bülent Meriç, said in his welcome address, "I think this is the most opportune time for having a fresh look at our respective countries. As the global economic downturn makes its impact on our economies and as our classical markets lose their lure, we need to set sail to new horizons with new concepts and ideas. This is the high time to realize that both Singapore and Turkey provide valuable gateways to new horizons for each other. Apart from its connectivity with the neighbouring markets, Turkey presents a significant and growing domestic market. With a young and skilled workforce of 25 million people, 742 bn USD GDP and 10,436 USD per capita GDP, the Turkish economy is the 15th largest in the world and the 6th largest in Europe."
Addressing participants during the question and answer session were His Excellency Mr. Ahmet Bülent Meriç, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Singapore; Mr. Pinar Aran, Head of DEIK Delegation; Mr. Hasan Yalcin, Deputy Director General, Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade; Mr. Ismail Bitirim, Senior Project Director, Prime Ministry Investment Support & Promotion Agency and; Mr. Selami Genc, President, Singapore-Turkey Business Association. SBF CEO, Mr. Teng Theng Dar chaired the panel.
Most participants conveyed their keen interest for exploring business opportunities in the aviation and tourism industry, and sought the advice of the panelists from Turkey.
Mr. Mohd. Ishak, CEO of The Teaching Company Pte. Ltd., expressed his interest for possible collaboration projects in the aviation industry. One example highlighted to the panelists was, Turkish Airlines. They may require training services. Turkish Airlines was described by Mr Ismail Bitirim, Senior Project Director, Prime Ministry Investment Support & Promotion Agency, as the "fastest growing airline company in Europe, increasing its profit by 327 % in 2008" during his presentation.
On a separate note, Mr. Alex Soh, Director of Asian Charter & Cargo Consultancy Pte. Ltd., who specialises in the transportation business, asked the panel to give a forecast on Turkey's tourism growth in the future, particularly for the tourists who are from the region of Asia. He hopes to ride on the lucrative tourism sector in Turkey to boost his business operations.
Ambassador Meriç informed participants that tourism is a thriving industry in Turkey, receiving 26 million visitors in 2008, with a dollar worth of $22 billion. The Turkish government is looking to realize $30 billion in tourism revenue in 2009. One interesting finding was that the number of Singapore tourists had surged from a mere 4,000 to 19,000 last year.
On a similar note, Mr. Hasan said that Turkey is receiving more tourists from China and is on the recommended list of destinations for its citizens.
The ambassador added that Turkey is also looking into diversifying the tourism industry and is open to joint ventures with companies to develop tourism packages such as cultural tourism and winter tourism.
Participants also enquired about the restrictions on foreign ownership for agricultural land or ownership of real estate as well as participation in possible ICT projects. Mr. Ismail said that there may be some restrictions on the usage of agricultural land; land can be acquired by Turkey-based company or foreigners with a six-month resident permit in Turkey.
For the ICT projects, Mr. Ismail said there are a couple of ICT government infrastructural projects in the pipeline and the government may put up tenders for these projects.
The SBF-facilitated business-matching session which followed provided a good platform for networking between the Singapore and Turkish businessmen and exploration of potential business opportunities and possible business tie-ups.
Mr. Teng Theng Dar, SBF CEO, noted during his welcome address, "In 2008, Turkey was Singapore's 42nd largest trading partner with a total trade volume of close to SGD1.9 billion. This represented a substantial increase of almost 80% in trade value from year 2007 of about SGD1.0 billion. Turkey, with her recent economic reforms, will provide good business opportunities for our local business community to explore. Her strategic geographical location coupled with good trading and business linkages makes it a good business gateway to the markets of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. This makes it a potential hub for the region,"
With the current global economic downturn, SBF, as apex business chamber, has been proactively assisting Singapore companies to venture overseas to seek opportunities in new and emerging markets. SBF remains committed to playing a pivotal role in facilitating Singapore companies' market development efforts into the Eastern Europe region.
Going forward, for future Turkish business opportunities, the local business community can look forward to the Turkey-world trade bridge 2009 event, organised by Confederation of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) and supported by SBF, in Istanbul, Turkey, on 1 to 7 June 2009. SBF may lead a possible business mission trip to Turkey, tentatively held on 8 to 15 June 2009.
For more information on GBD-AMEA events, please contact:
Tan Lip Hong
Senior Executive, Americas, Middle East, Africa, Europe and Oceania
Singapore Business Federation
Tel: 6827 6887
About Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK)
DEIK is a non-profit private sector organization founded in 1986 by the nine principal private sector institutions in Turkey. DEIK's main objective is to participate in the attempts to improve Turkey's external economic relations and to contribute to the integration of the Turkish economy with the world economy through bilateral Business Councils established with various countries.
The following are some of the Singaporean companies which have business interest and presence in Turkey.
Port of Singapore Authority (PSA)
PSA International, the global cargo terminal-operating arm of the Port of Singapore, has boosted its European presence with a successful $755 million cash bid to operate Turkey's largest port. The joint bid is for a contract to operate the Mersin port by the state-owned PSA and its partner, Turkish construction company Akfen.
ST Electronics, the electronic arm of ST Engineering, has achieved reasonable success in Turkey recently when its rail solution won a SGD$123 million contract to offer turnkey integrated solutions and provide the Communications and Automatic fare Collection Systems for Turkey's Marmaray Line in Istanbul.
Charles & Keith
Charles & Keith is an upscale ladies fashion retailer specialising in leather shoes, bags and accessories. They currently have 7 retail stores in major Turkish cities such as Ankara and Istanbul.
It is a wholly owned subsidiary of CWT Distribution - one of Singapore???s biggest and fastest growing 3rd party logistic firms, and they had ventured into Turkey as early as 1998. It has now a presence in major ports and cities around the globe including Istanbul.
SBF's Past activities for Turkey
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's official visit to Turkey (16-19 Nov 2004).
The Turkey-Singapore Economic Relations Seminar & Business Matching Session (23 Nov 2006).
A workshop on privatization projects and business opportunities in Turkey (23 Mar 2007).
"Turkey - the next destination" session (13 Mar 2008)
Turkiye Asia Pacific Foreign Trade Bridge II event in Istanbul (17-20 Jun 2008)
Turkey Business Opportunities Seminar and Business Matching Session 2009 (30 Apr 2009)
Turkey was Singapore's 42nd trading partner in 2008 with a total trade of SGD$1.89 billions.
Exports to Turkey decreased slightly from SGD$497 millions in 2007 to SGD$494 millions in 2008. The top export product categories for export are petroleum products, electronic valves and telecommunication equipment.
Imports from Turkey increased from SGD$546 millions in 2007 to SGD$1.39 billions in 2008 representing more than 150% increase in trade value.
Total trade in 2008 amounted to about SGD$1.89 billions, an increase of more than 80% from 2007 (SGD$1.04 billion), with the trade balance in favor of Turkey.
Singapore's Trade with Turkey (Value in SGD$ Thousand)
(Source: IE Singapore)