Boycott on France not good idea, top boss says

Boycott on France not good idea, top boss says

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Boycott on France not good idea, top boss says

A boycott on French goods would not be sustainable, says Ümit Boyner of Turkish Industry and Business Association. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

An embargo or boycott on French goods and trade relations would not result in forcing France to withdraw from a bill that calls for punishing any denial of Armenian “genocide,” according to a top Turkish business representative. 

“I do not believe economic embargoes and boycotts will bring any productive result,” Ümit Boyner, head of Turkish Industry & Business Organization (TÜSİAD), told the Hürriyet Daily News in a telephone interview yesterday. 

“We have experienced this before in boycotting Italian goods to protest Abdullah Öcalan’s stay there in 1998,” she said. Officially declared boycotts generally did not bear any result and personal boycotts were a separate matter, she said. 

An embargo on France was not sustainable, Boyner said, “because Turkey is an exports-oriented economy and needs diverse export markets for its own production and employment.” 
Turkey’s exports to France rose to $6.5 billion last year, rising from $1.56 billion in 1999, while the imports from the European country increased to $8.17 billion again last year from $3.12 billion a decade ago, according to official figures. In the last 10 months of this year, Turkish exports to France have reached $5.75 billion while imports hit $7.83 billion. 

Nearly 250 French firms currently operate in Turkey including Renault, Peugeot, Carrefour, Societe General, Danone, Sodexho, Lafarge, Alcatel and BNP Paribas.

Boyner’s statements came a few hours before her meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at his office in Istanbul. 

“I will tell all this to Prime Minister Erdoğan,” she said. “We have to stand firm against the wrongdoing of the French administration.” 

The French citizens were not interested in the bill to be voted on this week, according to Boyner, who participated in a Turkish mission to the country earlier this week to lobby against the proposal.
“What we observed in France when we talked to our counterparts and companies was that the issue is a part of the election race [in France]. There is almost an auction on the Armenian issue between the political parties.” 

Adoption of the resolution on Armenian allegations regarding the incidents of 1915 could harm Turkish-French economic relations, according to Rifat Hirascıklıoğlu, chairperson of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), Dec. 19. 

“French leader Nicolas Sarkozy will be hoist on his own petard,” said Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan. 

“[The French government] is struck with a kind of populism attack to get the votes of Armenians living in the country, risking the loss of a trade partner such as Turkey,” the minister told a symposium on development in the southern province of Mersin.

If the bill passes through Parliament, that is not the end of the story, Boyner said. “There is the Senate procedure.

Turkey should not give up and carry on its efforts to block the French bill, Boyner said. “It’s like the proverb which goes ‘One crazy person throws a rock in the well and it takes a hundred wise men to figure out how to take it out .’”