Turkey sees fall in furniture imports
The country's furniture imports hovered between $700-800 million in 2000s and dropped to around $500 million last year while exports have been soaring from $150-200 million in the early 2000s to $3.5 billion last year, according to official figures.
Nuri Gürcan, the head of the Furniture Industry Businessmen Association, said this situation stemmed from institutionalization, rise in exports and expansion of branding activities in the sector.
Turkey is the only country that supports firms' branding activities with a program named Turquality. The country also supports companies in fairs and provides incentives for exports through low-interest-rate loans.
"We mainly import garden furniture because they are manufactured from raw materials, such as bamboo, not grown in Turkey's climate conditions," he told Anadolu Agency.
The furniture sector has a very low share in imports compared to other sectors, he noted, adding that Turkey imports furniture mostly from Asian countries.
He also said: "We import only very specific products, which is common in every sector."
Turkey competes with Italy, China, Germany
Koray Çalışkan, the chairman of the country's oldest furniture mall Modoko, said the furniture sector has been a net exporter sector of Turkey for many years.
Turkey reduced furniture imports through raising the number of domestic companies as well as promoting strong entrepreneurship and institutionalization in the country, he highlighted.
During the last 17 years, the country raised its exports 20 times, while imports dropped to $500 million, which is a very low level, he
He said: "These imports are mostly garden furniture and furniture accessories. For some products, like those in garden furniture, there is no domestic substitution."
Çalışkan expressed that Turkey competes with China, Germany, Poland, Vietnam and Italy, which are major furniture exporters globally.
Turkey should raise the price per kilogram in the furniture sector, which is around $3 currently, by producing value-added goods just like Germany and Italy do, he said.
For further improving the country's furniture exports, Modoko is preparing for launching a furniture mall in the U.S. in the near future, he added.
Referring to coronavirus epidemic, he stressed that it has not had an adverse effect for the Turkish furniture sector so far, but can even be an opportunity for the sector.
"China, which exports furniture worth around $54 billion, will lose its market this year, so we can raise our share in the global furniture market," he added.
Since late December 2019, China has been haunted by a novel coronavirus that has killed over 600 people.
From ground zero in Wuhan, China, it has spread to more than 20 countries worldwide, including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, France, Russia, Spain, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India, and Canada.
Turkey should raise brand value
Gürcan also said Turkey is the 13th country in the world furniture trade and it aims to rank among the top five countries as of 2023.
He added that Turkey should raise its added-value production and improve its brand value.
"China is a furniture giant but its price per kilogram is too low," he said and noted that Italy is a well-known country in the global furniture market.
He underlined that Turkey competes with Italy and the Turkish furniture sector has geographic and logistics advantages.