Terrorism-stricken province is regional export hub
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Workers produce slippers on an assembly line at a plant in an industrial zone in Gaziantep, which is the most industrialized province in southeastern Turkey. AA photoGaziantep, the southeastern Turkish province struck by a deadly terrorist attack on Aug. 20, is one of the country’s export centers, with an annual export volume of nearly $5 billion each year, which is attracting new investment. Both national and regional business organizations have condemned the attacked, in which nine were killed and 68 wounded, saying terrorism will not succeed in stopping the rapid growth in Gaziantep.
The province’s four industrial zones provide jobs for tens of thousands, and this is seen as a remedy to social instability in the area, having its roots in the lingering Kurdish problem.
The province sells to at least 171 countries and autonomous regions, and aims to boost its exports volume to $6 billion this year. The government has set an ambitious target of increasing national exports to $500 billion by 2023, when the hundredth anniversary of the Republic of Turkey will be celebrated. Businesses in Gaziantep aim to realize $30 billion in annual exports by then. Gaziantep is an unrivaled industry and trade hub in the wider Middle East, from Israel to India.
Gaziantep Industry Chamber Chairman Adil Konukoğlu, one of the country’s leading industrialists, told daily Hürriyet in a recent interview that the chamber is making efforts to establish two more industrial zones in the province. Exporters need access to the Port of İskenderun as well as to the Port of Mersin, in order to meet transportation needs for the rapidly increasing export volume, he said.
“We saw that the way to develop the region is to develop relations with neighboring countries. No matter how many incentives you give in trying to industrialize [the region], there is no chance for industry to flourish if trade channels are not open and you cannot sell your goods,” Mehmet Aslan, chairman of the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce, told Barçın Yinanç from Hürriyet Daily News in June, referring to the government’s policy on Syria.
“We think it is much better to insist on policies that will open the way to a peaceful transition through dialogue between the government and the opposition, [leading] to a system where people can elect their own administrators,” he had said.
Union of Chamber and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu condemned the Gaziantep attack in a written statement issued yesterday. “Those who bloody the Eid ul-Fitr and make our mothers cry will be brought to account for the [spilled] blood.”
“No struggle for rights [can justify] drawing the blood of children in a holy month such as Ramadan,” said Ankara Chamber of Commerce President Salih Bezci, in a written statement yesterday.
Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen (TESK) President Bendevi Palandöken said “Those who appeal to terror are the enemy of humanity,” in his message condemning the attack. k HDN