Turkish businesses enjoy cheap imports from crisis-hit Greece
ISTANBUL-Hürriyet Daily News
Employees work on assembly lines at a plant owned by Eurodrip, a Greek company that produces irrigation pipes in the southwestern Turkish province of Burdur. The firm has invested 10 million euros in its Turkish unit. Company photo
Turkey’s imports from crisis-stricken Greece jumped by nearly 40 percent last year thanks to more affordable prices as the Greek exporters were eager to take a bigger share in Turkey’s robust market, which also attracts Greek firms to shift investments during crisis, according to professionals.
“As the competitiveness of some Greek companies declined due to devastating economic crisis, Greek exporters started to look to the closest market to save their business,” said Selim Egeli, chairperson of the Turkish-Greek Business Council at Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK). “Considering the logistic costs, it’s logical for Greek exporters to penetrate the robust Turkish market,” Egeli said to Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview yesterday.
Turkey enjoyed importing cheap products from Greece during the crisis. Turkey’s exports rose by 6.37 percent to $1.55 billion last year from $1.455 billion while imports from Greece jumped 39.9 percent to $2.56 billion from $1.54 billion.
According to Egeli, one of the main reasons behind the great jump in Greek and Turkish trade was the “revolutionary” visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Athens with 15 Turkish ministers Oct. 22, 2010. “We are picking the fruits of that visit,” Egeli added.
The biggest rise in Turkey’s export was in mineral fuels, oils and alkali products, which jumped to $1.67 billion last year from $592.3 million in 2010, according to Turkey’s Statistical Institute (TUİK) data.
Turkey’s livestock import from Greece rose to $51.7 million last year from $32.1 million.
Greek investments rise
Moreover, debt-stricken Greek firms have started to shift investments to Turkey. The number of Greek firms registered in Turkey rose by 10.4 percent from 430 to 480 last year, according to data of the Undersecretary of the Treasury.
Athens-based Eurodrip, a manufacturer of drip irrigation pipes and systems, kept investing during the economic crisis.
“During only the last four years we have invested more than 10 million euros in our production facility in the southwestern province of Burdur,” said Vassilios Kykrilis, managing director of the company in a recent email sent to Hürriyet Daily News. “We have developed a dealers’ network with more than 350 selling points, scattered all over Turkey,” he added.
“Turkey has turned into an attractive market for Greek firms looking for opportunities abroad,” said Karkanis Ionnis, Greek counselor for economic and commercial affairs in Istanbul, speaking to Daily News in a phone interview yesterday.
“Greek businessmen feel comfortable doing business in Turkey,” added Ionnis.
Talking about the rising number of companies with Greek capital registered in Turkey, Ionnis said, “Turkey is a great market next to Greece and due to the economic crisis in the country, many firms are planning to shift some investments to Turkey thanks to investment-friendly business environment.”
Another reason for the rising interest of Greek firms in Turkey stems from “endless protests of the labor unions,” according to Egeli.
“Greek businessmen know the labor unions are not as strong in Turkey as they are in Greece. Eventually productions would not be interrupted by strikes and protests,” he said.
The frontrunner in Greece’s parliamentary election said yesterday the indebted country should set out the borders of an offshore economic exploitation zone, a step towards hydrocarbon exploration that could antagonize its long-term rival Turkey.
Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said he believed Greece should follow Cyprus’s example in defining a maritime boundary, which is normally a precursor to exploring offshore for oil and gas.
Such a move could escalate festering arguments between Turkey and Greece over land, air, sea and sea-floor borders in the Aegean, if the proposed zone crosses into disputed territory.
Both countries have come to the brink of conflict over territorial rights in the past. They are also at loggerheads over Cyprus, an island ethnically split between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
“We believe that Greece should undertake corresponding specific initiatives such as those taken by the late (Cypriot) President Tassos Papadopoulos in recognizing an EEZ (economic exploitation zone),” Samaras told reporters in Cyprus.
His party is leading in opinion polls ahead of an election expected in Greece in April.
“The existence of sub-sea wealth shows the depth of a common strategy which can be developed between Cyprus and Greece on issues of economy as well,” he said.
NICOSIA – Reuters