Islamic trade tops Turkish defense

Islamic trade tops Turkish defense

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Islamic trade tops Turkish defense

Turkey sold PARS armored vehicles to Malaysia last year for $600 million in the largest single item of defense exports. AA photo

The Union of Turkish Defense Exporters earlier this week released a list of Turkish defense exports to a number of countries, with Saudi Arabia topping the list.

The list said Turkey’s 2011 defense exports stood at $400 million. However, the exact figure was over $1 billion since sale of offset parts was ignored, according to a professional.

The union’s list rightly observed the rise of Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries in defense buys from Turkey. In fact, eight of the 10 countries were Islamic nations. “This was not our intention, but is right. We sell most to Islamic countries,” one senior procurement official said.

SaSaD, the Defense Industry Manufacturers Association, makes a more balanced estimate and takes into account the defense exports of all Turkish companies, including their sales in the fourth quarter of the year. It also takes into account companies, including the likes of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which make major contributions to the sales through offsets.

An offset is an industrial compensation given to the companies of arms-buying countries in return for their purchasing activities. For example, Turkey wins large offset rights in the form of parts in return for its acquisition of A400M large military aircraft.

SaSaD’s complete list of sales to countries the previous year is not complete yet and will only appear in April after companies release their fourth quarter sales. But SaSaD Secretary General Kaya Yazgan said all indications show Turkey exported more than $1 billion in 2011.

The Union of Turkish Defense Exporters list still gives a good sense about who buys Turkish defense products. In its list, readers can see the buyers of complete Turkish systems rather than export parts.
“Obviously the United States does not buy complete Turkish tanks, but on the other hand you can see Saudi Arabia buying complete Turkish armored vehicles,” Yazgan said.

The union’s list includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Italy as Turkey’s main 10 buyers, eight of them Islamic nations.

Among them, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain buy armored vehicles, military radios and rocket systems, and Turkmenistan small navy vessels made by the Yonca Onuk shipyards.
“Actually you can find Indonesia, Malaysia and Qatar among Turkey’s real and prospective buyers in addition,” said the Turkish procurement official.

Last year, Turkey sold armored vehicles worth $600 million to Malaysia, in the largest single defense export, and is seeking to sell with HDW of Germany a few of the U214 submarines to Indonesia.
“A few years ago, no one could see major Turkish efforts to sell submarines with a major country. Now you can see them,” said the Turkish procurement official.

“Being Muslim makes a difference. The Muslim buyers see that you are Muslim and take up a better attitude. In the coming years, we expect better prospects to sell our products,” the official said.