Speaking at the Kartepe Economy Summit held by the Economy News Journalists Association, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that the economy has started shifting towards Anatolia and said, in regards to the Balo Project which will connect Anatolia to Europe, “This project will bring Anatolia into the Customs Union.”​


Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu assesses the economy at Kartepe

27.03.2012 / Kartepe Kocaeli


Speaking at the Kartepe Economy Summit held by the Economy News Journalists Association, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that the economy has started shifting towards Anatolia and said, in regards to the Balo Project which will connect Anatolia to Europe, “This project will bring Anatolia into the Customs Union.”​


Hisarcıklıoğlu assessed the economy at Kartepe. Reminding that Turkey became, for the first time, the world growth champion with 9.6% growth in the first 3 quarters of 2011, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the contribution of the Turkish private sector is undeniable.

Stating that the share of private consumption and investment in the growth is 11.5%, the share of the public investments and spending 1.2%, the foreign trade incommodity -3.1%, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “If our exports and imports were the same, Turkey would have broken another record today and 12.7% growth would have been achieved.”

- 1.3 million additional employment

Stating that this growth has provided 1.3 million additional employment and seeing as there are 750,000 people joining the workforce each year in Turkey, this means that those joining the workforce were employed as well as there being a decrease in the number of those unemployed, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the number of those registered with the SSK have increased by 1.1 million meaning that 85% of those starting work started as registered.
Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that Turkey was the second country in terms of countries which increased their employment in the world with 12.8% increase as of the 3rd quarter of 2011.

Hisarcıklıoğlu emphasized that when the financial structure of the companies excepting the financial ones in the İMKB, all companies have increased their sales by 17%, net profits by 24%, activity profits by 12% and have decreased financial spending by 8%.

- ID numbers for companies

Stating that they do not yet provide complete information regarding the private sector, but that in the coming years this would also be possible, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The Revenue Administration, SGK, TÜİK, Internal Affairs Ministry and TOBB have started a NACE study together.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they initiated NACE but afterwards, all institutions and administrations started using different NACE codes for every company and said, “As of the end of May, all NACE codes for companies will be unified under a unified system just like citizenship numbers. This will ensure collectivity between institutions. We will start speaking the same language. At the same time we will be able to take inventory of commerce and industry on a provincial basis. When asked to provide the shoe producers in Konya, Sivas and Trabzon, we will be able to provide the list of shoe producers as of the 8th month of this year from the provinces of Turkey. This will be revolutionary. Another thing we will be doing is being able to show where the companies are operating. We will be able to provide numbers regarding general companies. This should provide the foundation of new incentive plans in Turkey.”

- Turkey was able to grow even when surrounded by fire

Hisarcıklıoğlu explained that while Turkey broke growth records, in the last 2 years 4 Prime Ministers in Europe have resigned, 10 governments have changed and that the political crises in Africa and the Middle East have caused the change of 4 heads of government.
Stating that this success was achieved while Turkey was surrounded by fire, Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that this was an indication that the Turkish private sector is sprinting ahead.
Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that Turkey has broken records in imports and exports last year with its share of global exports at 0.075 and imports at 1.32.
Current deficit ratio to national income has, for the first time reached 10% where it used to be compensated by direct investment capital input, for the last year it has been compensated by short term capital inputs stated Hisarcıklıoğlu and Turkey meets its current deficit with 52% from foreign fund income and 48% from its own reserves.
Hisarcıklıoğlu said that Turkey has a deficit of 89 billion Dollars in products trade, 23 billion of it is covered by tourism income.

- 2012 expectations

Stating that because not enough finances were coming into Turkey in the second half of 2011, foreign currency was on the rise and that the TL lost 30% value against the Euro and the Dollar, credit interest increasing by 6 points, reaching 14, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated his 2012 expectations as, “The American economy has started giving off positive signals. Significant risks are appearing in China and growth is expected to drop to 7% from 10%. Even though Europe is tied down in a debt spiral it doesn’t look to become completely bankrupt for the moment. The European Central Bank has released 1 trillion Euros into the market. Once funds accumulated overseas, interest has started to decrease. The confirmation of the second rescue package for Greece has started giving off positive signals. This has reflected on us as flexibility in regards to foreign currency. The Dollar came down to 1.75 from 1.90. Credit interest has started to decrease with half a point.

- 5 factor which will affect Turkey positively or negatively in 2012

Hisarcıklıoğlu, pointing out issues which will positively or negatively affect Turkey 2012, listed the positive factors as, “A lively domestic market, the private sector’s ongoing investments, the private sector’s ability to cycle foreign debt, public administration’s low debt deficit and positive expectations regarding the new investment incentives system.”

Listing the 5 main factors which will negatively affect Turkey as increasing energy dependence and energy prices, the severity of inflation, insufficient domestic savings, the future of the crisis in Europe, increasing tensions in the Middle East stemming from Iran and Syria, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that Turkey needs to take precautions to increase its competitive power, combat unemployment, increase employment and enact structural reforms.

- Turkey’s roadmap

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that 3 subjects must be on Turkey’s roadmap, that they would be led astray if deviated from these subjects.
With the recession of developed markets, the pressure of costs has increased significantly, Turkey’s taxes and social security cut on employment is too great when compared to Europe and her competitors in the world, Turkey is leading in terms of severance pay while also having unemployment coverage stated Hisarcıklıoğlu and said that they must focus on factor which will decrease the cost of employment.

- The increase in energy prices was not reflected on consumer prices

Stating that energy prices have increased both production and charter prices; production prices have increased significantly even though this change has not been reflected on consumers, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the increase in the first 2 months worldwide is 30.5% while the price for consumers is 13%.

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that a 17% increase will be coming and that this will increase both production costs and the charter costs while transporting the goods.

Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the Special Consumption Tax for energy is 20% and that among the taxes collected indirectly, the amount collected from energy makes up almost 25% of the total.

- Industry shifting to Anatolia

TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that in the last 10 years, of İSO’s 1000 industrial firms, 155 have shifted to Anatolia, “The industry is shafting to Anatolia. There is a great liveliness and dynamism to it. We should be paving the way for this. As the industry and large companies shift to Anatolia, we’ve been unable to bring Anatolia into the Customs Union. İstanbul’s exports to Europe are 51%, Bursa’s 78%, Kayseri 39%, İzmir 61%, Konya 33% and Gaziantep 24%. We should be moving our cities into the customs union. This will increase their competitive power.”

Stating that there are structural problems regarding this situation, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that both the government and the private sector need to pitch in to solve these problems.

- BALO Project

Stating that they have implemented the BALO Project which will connect Anatolia to Europe via train, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “There were no tariff container runs to Europe. We started the BALO Project in order to bring Anatolia into the Customs Union. Our partners, TCDD, the Ministry of Transportation and TEPAV brought this project to life. It will begin operations shortly. All goods from Anatolia will converge at the Okcugöl Consolidation Center to be transported to Europe via train. Until now, the EU has been subjecting us to extra-tariff obstacles. The movement of goods was free; however, there was a quota on the trucks which would be doing the transportation. In this regard, we will lower costs and bypass the quota. This project isn’t just to connect Anatolia to Europe; it will connect Islamabad to London. Turkey will be at the center of it all. We will send our goods all the way to Islamabad and India as well working on a project with Afghanistan. The train runs have started. This project has become a state project. The Pakistani government is also supporting the project.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that sending goods to Pakistan at the moment requires a minimum of 3 months and that the goal is to initially bring this duration down to 12 days.

- Unemployment on the rise between the ages of 35 and 54

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that another important issue for Turkey is to combat unemployment and ensure employment increase; saying that unemployment has stabilized at 10% since 2001 and has become a chronic problem which must be brought down.

Pointing out that according to TÜİK data, 19% of the unemployed during 1996 were between the ages of 35 and 54 while this ratio has increase to 35% in 2011, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Unemployment between 35 and 54 means that unemployment is increasing among people with families, children. This presents us with structural problems regarding our future. The youth between the ages of 15 and 24 is taken care of by their family. The unemployed between the ages of 25-35 could be supported but if someone between 35 and 54 there won’t be anybody to take care of them.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they have trained 21,000 people with the UMEM specialized training and employment campaign and 19,000 have found employment.

Stating that UMEM’s biggest problem is finding participants, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that according to research, 50% of women and 28% of men find the courses unsuitable; under further study it was observed that 9% of women and 12% of men chose ‘Do not have time’, Hisarcıklıoğlu went on to say that they will include the service sector in the project as well, which will bring increased success to the service and industry sectors together.
- South Korea example
Hisarcıklıoğlu, stating that Turkey is the world’s 17th largest economy with the goal of becoming one of the top 10 by 2023, said that he believed they could achieve this.
Despite being on the same level with Turkey since the start of the 1980’s South Korea has become the 14th largest economy of the world with 26 million of its 50 million population working stated Hisarcıklıoğlu and that Turkey only has 26 million working with its 74 million population which shows that we are not fully utilizing our potential.

- We must increase women’s employment

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “What puts us off balance is women’s employment. Women’s employment in Korea is 50% while it is 24% in Turkey. We are wasting a part of our potential. We should be paving the way and supporting women’s joining of the work force.”

Stating that another matter of importance is efficiency, Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that per capita efficiency in Korea is 40,000 while only 30,000 Dollars in Turkey and said, “If we are able to increase the ratio and efficiency of women’s employment we will reach our desired goal. If we managed to achieve just the women’s employment and efficiency of Korea, we would be the 11th largest economy of the world today. We must focus on the right target. We have the will and power to do this. We know the roadmap and what to do. We must be implementing the mentality reform for integrating women into the workforce.”

- We must support freedom in terms of education

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the education reform must be implemented and that the issue is on today’s political agenda as well.

Stating that they are unable to find qualified personnel in Anatolia, that they are unable to provide proper education to people, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “As a principle, I support religious, conscientious, entrepreneurial and thought freedom. The truth of the matter is that we must support the freedom of education.

Forms, mentality, a certain viewpoint and going beyond these… This is in contrast with the way man is created. The brain is created to think. İmam hatip or religious education, call it what you will. If a family wants to give religious education to their children, it would be wrong to deny this. We must let them be. Those who do not wish to participate in it shouldn’t have to. The mistake that has been made to this day in vocational education is that the state thought ‘I know best, the participants don’t.’ We, once again have no place in vocational education. The state decides what personnel I need, not me. I have to invest accordingly. This is wrong. We put great importance in these structural reforms and the process of the new Constitution.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that Turkey, which 65th on the international ease of business index, is the growth champion and therefore every one of the 1.4 million companies in the private sector should be awarded medals for succeeding despite this system.
Stating that the way to fix the system is through the new constitution, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the new constitution is the partnership contract of the 74 million and went on, “If we employ women, educate everyone and implement reforms one after the other, there is nothing we cannot do.”

- “I am leaving the TOBB Presidency on my own decision”

TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the new Turkish Trade Law is a revolutionary legislation but there are certain clauses that they object to, which they have stated since the commission.

Stating that there should be financial punishments for financial crimes, they have lifted prison sentences from the checks legislation, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that there is no other country where fixed term checks exist and that they have formed a law to this end.

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We have lifted prison sentence from fixed term checks but there are prison sentences in the Turkish Trade Law. If there are to financial punishments for financial crimes then there can be no prison sentences in the Turkish Trade Law.”

Stating that they will defend transparency to the end, Hisarcıklıoğlu voiced his opinions regarding the new Turkish Trade Law, “However, we view the perception that 1.4 million companies are open to public. Publicly traded companies need to be transparent. The rest should be open and transparent to their partners. If you were to ask now, the answer would be that, presently, it is opaque. When one party achieves 51% ownership, they are not beholden to their partners. This is wrong. They should be accountable. What business is it of anyone else’s what happens in my company? It concerns partners. It concerns people if it is a publicly traded company. How much money I have is nobody’s business. This is found nowhere else in the world. This is bizarre. Should this go into effect on July 1st? It should but there are clauses which must be changed. They’re saying ‘If a single clause of the law is changed the building crumbles.’ If just one of 1535 is changed and the building crumbles then the building is faulty to begin with. If something concerns me then my views must be taken into account. The ‘I know and you don’t,’ mentality shouldn’t exist. That is an autocratic mentality.”

- Turkey should focus on new consumption centers

Stating that 51% of the world’s production is situated to the east of Turkey’s while the 51% of consumption is to the west, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that 300 million people in China and 200 million people in India earn more and spend more than Europe, so Turkey should focus carefully on consumption centers.

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they want Turkey to reach EU standards and that their efforts are to this end and said, “I don’t care whether Turkey enters the EU or not. I care not at all whether they accept Turkey after we reach those standards. It is just a roadmap for me. Would I want to be a full member? Yes, I would.”

Stating that the EU’s biggest problem is the lack of leadership and vision, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that European leaders failed to make quick decisions and enact reforms during the crisis.

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Turkey experienced the greatest crisis of the Republic’s history in 2001. We supported the economic program put forth by Kemal Derviş and were labeled traitors. If Turkey hadn’t quickly made those decisions and take precautions we would not have the success we have today.”

- Turkish economy heating up

Stating that the Turkish economy’s increasing temperature could be amended with precautions taken today, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the problems are known to those directing the economy, politics and bureaucracy and businessmen.
Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We agreed on the roadmap. If we are quick in its execution, if we do not disrupt our order and believe in our own power, there is nothing we cannot achieve. We have put forth solutions to the current deficit and employment caused by our structural issues. Hopefully we can overcome these together.”

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