Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) conducted its 67th General Assembly with the attendances of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and CHP President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, hosted by TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu.​


Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Turkey will march towards its great goals with entrepreneurs

20.05.2012 / Ankara


Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) conducted its 67th General Assembly with the attendances of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and CHP President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, hosted by TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu.​


Attending the General Assembly held at the TOBB ETU in addition to Prime Minister Erdoğan and CHP President Kılıçdaroğlu were representatives of political parties, members of the Grand National Assembly, bureaucrats, representatives of the business world and TOBB delegates.

During his speech at the General Assembly, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu said, addressing entrepreneurs and TOBB delegates, “Turkey is great with you. Turkey’s economy is strong with you. Turkey will march towards its great goals with you.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu, stating that the progress made by TOBB in 60 years is an indication of the progress made by the private sector in 60 years, depicted the progress made by Turkey’s economy where it now stands.

While entrepreneurs achieve success in economy TOBB has increased its service capacity in the last 10 years, stated Hisarcıklıoğlu and went on, “We have developed and supported our real sector with the projects we’ve implemented.”

TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu spoke during the 67th General Assembly:

“There are young entrepreneurs who leap into business life with courage as their only capital. There are women entrepreneurs who both support their families and rise in the business life. There are our brothers who come from beyond our borders, from lands which speak Turkish.

Contributing to the development of their cities, of becoming brands, idea producing Chamber and Exchange Presidents; our community which invests in the future of our country, which exports and provides employment; I heartily salute you all. You honor us with your presence.

This General Assembly holds special importance for us. We are all enjoying the honor and joy of our 60th Anniversary. We’ve come a long way in 60 years, rendered great services unto our private sector. This adventure of duty started in the 50’s, Turkey’s years of transformation and development. Along with the first free elections in politics, we transitioned into democracy.

A transition from bureaucracy dominated agricultural society to an urban and entrepreneurial society was set as the goal. In this process, similar to other developed countries of the world, an institution which would represent and develop the private sector in our country was needed.

And so it was that in the year 1952, TOBB was established. I respectfully celebrate the memory of the late Adnan Menderes and his colleagues who enabled the founding of TOBB. Turkey’s development picked up speed with the entry of the private sector to the stage. The seeds planted in 1950 grew rapidly, becoming a giant sycamore spanning the whole region.

- TOBB’s 60th year

TOBB’s 60th anniversary is the indication of the progress made by our private sector in 60 years.

60 years ago, we had 1,500 members; today, we have 1,420,000 members.

60 years ago, the goods-production per person was 200 Dollars; today, it has exceeded 10,000 Dollars.

60 years, automobile production was at 1,000; today, it stands at 1,000,000.

The number of foreign tourists has increased from 32,000 to 32,000,000.

Our exports, totaling 260,000,000 Dollars have surpassed 135 billion Dollars.

Our industrial exports which used to be 1% of our total export have become 94% of our exports.

We were a country which received foreign aid 60 years ago. Today, we are a country which rushes to the aid of those who need it in every region of the world, which aids poorer nations.

In the G-20, we are among the greatest of the world. Who is the largest industrial producer and exporter between Italy and China? We are. How, under which circumstances, did we achieve these? We did it, without even being in the first 50 countries of the ease of business index in the world competitiveness index.

We achieved all this, both nationally and internationally in 60 years despite political and economic crises. We achieved it by building fortresses unfazed by the rising of the seas! Our nation should be proud of the architects of these successes; traders and industrialists; women and young entrepreneurs; their principal representatives, Chamber-Exchange Presidents and General Assembly delegates. Turkey is great with you. Turkey’s economy is strong with you. Turkey will march towards its great goals with you. I congratulate all of you from the bottom of my heart and applaud you.

As our enterprising people achieved various successes in the economy, our Union which is the result of this power has increased its service capacity significantly, especially during the last 10 years. We have developed and supported the real sector through the projects we’ve implemented. In the last 10 years, we have widened our international representation network. We have served our entrepreneurs both nationally and internationally, acting as their strong voice.

We have become the voice and heart of Anatolia through our 1,500 delegates spread throughout all of Anatolia. TOBB is active in all decision making processes as the translator of the feelings, demands and expectations of Anatolia.

- Integrated with the world

TOBB provides a voice integrated with the world for the interests of our private sector in all business organizations operating in global markets. TOBB is an active and effective part of all lobby activities for all national matters pertaining to our country. TOBB brings our businessmen to the world at large, produces ideas, implements projects, helps those in need, looks after the charges of our ancestors and carries our flag to every part of the world.

TOBB builds the border gates of Turkey, invests in education, fights unemployment, facilitates the acquisition of finances of SMEs, bring SME consultancy to Anatolia and handles every problem of all sectors.

Our companies conduct their exports with the surety of TOBB. We have taken on an assurance risk of 35 billion Dollars and have become the single establishment which grants the most TIR carnets in the world. By modernizing customs gates, we have decreased the logistical costs of our industrialists by 450 million Liras per year.

We all know the state fairs used to be in. We all remember the fairs that looked like circuses where anyone with a tent used to set up. Under TOBB’s umbrella, fairs have gained an institutional structure; sectors have gained order and discipline.

It was not easy reaching this point, friends. This was achieved with the labor of every single member of this community. This was achieved through this community’s understanding of unity, solidarity and fraternity. We achieved this through the transformation in our Chambers and Exchanges.

We achieved it through the modern vision in the decision making processes of our Chambers and Exchanges. We lacked personnel who spoke foreign languages. Today, our Chambers and Exchanges are signing international projects. Thanks to this, we are acquiring resources internationally. We are working together with European Chambers.

A hundred of our Chambers and Exchanges have gained accreditation according to international criteria. This means that they provide services of quality, at the very least, on par with those of the best chambers of Europe. They have entered the European Union with their quality. I congratulate you all, you can never be too proud of all that you’ve achieved.

- Industry has spread to Anatolia

Thanks to our chambers taking on responsibility, our Organized Industry Zones have progressed and spread industry throughout Anatolia. There were only 12 OIZs in Turkey in the 80’s. Today, close to 150 OIZs are brimming with investors.

We have started our country’s largest professional training project, UMEM Ability’10, together with our Education and Labor Ministries. Thanks to the active involvement of our Chambers and Exchanges, we have opened 2,800 courses in 81 provinces. There are 42,000 people receiving professional training at these courses. The 22,000 who completed their training have found employment. Starting this year, the sectors of agriculture and service are being added to the project. The employment provided by this project to our country and real sector will increase incrementally.

My fellow colleagues, the very few projects I’ve mentioned here have made our community the center of the private sector. I can say in good conscience as the Vice President of the Union of European Chambers and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we have become one of the most prolific and most service providing Chamber systems in the world. Our Chamber and Exchange system is the chosen role model for the private sector in the Middle East, North Africa and developing countries.

Your contribution to the progress we’ve achieved is enormous. I heartily congratulate the Chamber and Exchange Presidents, Councils and Procession Committees who work day and night to improve this community. I am proud of you. Minister Hayati Yazıcı has always stood beside us in all the service we provide and has supported us. I present my gratitude to him.

On this occasion, I would like to remind the public of this: Everyone should know that Chamber and Exchange Presidents receive no pay. They spend the time they would normally spend in their own business to solve the problems of the cities and members they represent. This is why every single one of my Chamber and Exchange Presidents are adepts at service. They know that the offices they hold are tools for serving the community and they approach it with this understanding. We know that accounts are always accurate in the afterlife. This is the service mentality of this community.

The members of this community have achieved new successes every year thanks to the stability maintained during recent years. I would like to take this occasion to thank our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ali Babacan who has taken up the management of the economy with due diligence, Hayati Yazıcı, Zafer Çağlayan, Mehmet Şimşek, Nihat Ergün, Faruk Çelik and Cevdet Yılmaz.

- The achievements of the TOBB community

Let’s now take a look at what this community has achieved in just the last year. At a time when European economies fell into crisis, one after the other; at a time when the Middle East shook with political upheaval, our private sector, with its consumption and investments, ensured that the economy of Turkey grew by 8.5%.

5 million people in Europe lost their jobs during the crisis; we, as the private sector, increased the number of people we employ by 1.62 million. The number of active establishments increased by 109,000 to reach 1,398,000. The investment spending of the private sector in real increased by 25% and exceeded 158 billion Liras. The number of our members participating in exports increased by 8% to reach 54,000; our exports increased by 18% to reach 135 billion Dollars.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that all of these figures are new records. As the private sector, we will continue to prove employment and sustenance and to invest. As Europe stands still, we will keep running.

Let us not forget where we came from, what we have achieved despite difficulties. Let us have the conviction and determination to surpass all that we’ve already achieved. Because we still have a long way ahead of us. One of the world’s oldest proverbs says, ‘Rome was not built in a day’. What’s important is to know what to do, to dream, to set oneself a goal and work towards that goal.

We want to be one of the ten largest economies of the world in ten years. The founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk gave us the goal of reaching the level of advanced civilizations. In order to achieve this, we must provide employment for over 700,000 people and grow by 7% each year. Come, let us keep running.

Let us keep running so that in 10 year’s time, when those who convene for TOBB’s 70th anniversary, perhaps our children, will talk of our success, so that they will be proud of us. Let us instill prosperity and peace in this country without alienating a single person. We will work harder, we will produce more, invest more and provide more employment and conduct more exports. This nation trusts us and we trust our nation!

However, this is not the time to fall into complacence. There are domestic current deficit risks. Internationally, the crisis in Europe and the economic stagnation is negatively impacting us. The tumultuous environment in the Middle East and tensions are worsening. Our geography is undergoing a painful transformation. Consequently, what awaits us is a 2012 wrought with countries trying to find their way.

This is why we are obligated to be strong in this geography, both financially and politically. We must complete the reforms that have been left unfinished and also enact the ones we have so far been unable to. As we keep saying, the only thing we ask of our government is to level our playing field, give us the same conditions as our competitors. Allah willing, we will take care of the rest!

- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that they are the first political party in Turkey to win three consecutive elections while increasing their vote and said, “The success we’ve had is, Allah willing, not one which pushes us to hubris, disdain or sloth. Quite the opposite, we got to where we are by working, believing and trusting in our nation, walking together on this journey with our people.”

Erdoğan, at the 67th General Assembly of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, thanked TOBB for the peerless contributions they’ve made to the Turkish economy.

Stating that he is following the efforts TOBB has put forth in regards to the work on the new constitution with great admiration, Erdoğan congratulated TOBB for its sincere contributions and efforts.

Expressing that, throughout his terms as Prime Minister, he has taken great care to participate in TOBB’s general assemblies, Erdoğan stated that the heart of the real sector beats in this hall and that Turkey’s economy is reflected in this general assembly with all its elation, success, happiness while at the same time its deficiencies and problems; that a clear view of economy and other fields can be seen in these general assemblies.

- CHP President Kılıçdaroğlu

CHP President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu stated that in order to provide a solution to the terror problem, commissions inside and outside the parliament need to be established and went on, “We are not a party which neither negotiates nor advocates negotiating with terror. Those who negotiate with terror cannot know very well what a social agreement is. If we don’t want mothers to be crying in this country, that will be through the path we’ve found. Everyone, every political party must make sacrifices.”

- Customs and Commerce Minister Yazıcı

Customs and Commerce Minister Hayati Yazıcı stated that he has received a directive from the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to provide businessmen with green passports, “We will speed up work to this end with a condition: There will be a exports figure and green passports will be granted to businessmen who exceed this figure.”

- MHP Vice President Bal

Speaking at the General Assembly, MHP Vice President Faruk Bal stated that since the 90’s the world has become a single pole entity, with many different colored revolutions occurring around Turkey and that Turkey may be doomed to such a revolution.

- TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu’s closing speech

In his closing speech at the General Assembly, the President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “How joyous it is for us if we are able to but provide one person with employment and sustenance, if we are able to keep someone’s shop or stand open.”

At the closing of TOBB’s 67th General Assembly, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they have successfully conducted another general assembly and thanked everyone who supported them.

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