Bursa is one of the major actors that currently shape the world textile trade and is followed by its own designs and creations. The textile sector stands out as one of the industries that have the greatest say in the world among the exporting sectors.

Can we get an economic and local evaluation of the year we left behind, starting from Bursa, the locomotive city of our country’s economy?

We left a very difficult year behind due to the problems in world trade and the conditions specific to the geography we live in. 2019 was a year in which the lowest growth data of the last 10 years were recorded in global trade with increasing protectionist policies. On the other hand, as a country, we went through significant hardships. In the face of realizing the equilibrium process in the economy with high interest and high inflation spiral, historical operations were carried out against terrorist organizations with the outstanding achievements of our armed forces under the leadership of our President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the business world, we firmly believe that we surmounted the worst period behind. Our real sector already started to feel the positive effects of the interest rate cut policy. The domestic consumption expenditures are reviving. The manufacturing industry orders, capacity utilization rate, and economic confidence index are increasing. As a result of these achievements, 19 the economic shrinkage that started in the last quarter of last year and lasted for 3 quarters has indeed ended. There is upward mobility for the growth expectations of OECD, World Bank, and international organizations regarding Turkey. Thanks to the measures taken by the economy management in consultation with our business world and the assistance they provided to our real sector, we have entered upon a new year, where we have refreshed our hopes, leaving behind critical loops. I cordially believe that we will achieve much stronger growth in 2020 on the basis of new investments, production, and employment. In this challenging period, I express my gratitude to our government on behalf of our business world, which has implemented regulations that meet the expectations of the private sector.

Since the day you took the Office in Bursa, one of the most dynamic cities of production and exports, you have realized plenty of projects within the framework of the ‘Vision of Common Mind’ in order to carry Bursa into the future. Could you give us information about the reflections of these projects on the economy?

Our most important priority is that Bursa will reach its climax in a much-consolidated future and will lead the way for the objectives of Turkey. Our ‘’ Vision of Common Mind’’ has enabled our sectoral problems to be resolved and new investments to be brought to Bursa. We ignited the wick of an important transformation movement in the economy when taking the office in 2013. On the way we set off with the target of 16 macro projects, we managed to implement more than 40 macro projects. With the projects we build on a strong strategy, a strong economy, a strong vision, and a strong generation, we have strengthened the leading role of Bursa in the economy of Turkey. With our projects that add value to the national economy, such as TEKNOSAB, SME OSB, GUHEM, BUTEKOM, and Model Factory, We have moved Bursa into a privileged city in the qualified transformation in industry and technology.

Bursa has managed to grow faster than the average in Turkey every year since 2013. In this period, we increased our contribution to the central budget by 120 percent. Turkey’s 20 export target of an average of $ 4 per kilogram has been achieved as of today. We have achieved a performance of 2 times bigger than the size of Turkey’s economy with 52 percent in medium high technology production. Our number of R&D centers, which was 23 in Bursa 7 years ago, reached 156 by increasing almost 6 times. We achieved a historical performance by reaching a threshold of 16 billion dollars in exports. We managed to increase the number of exporter companies more than 1,500. These data are very crucial in Bursa’s economy, as it shows what Bursa is capable of and can accomplish when it is supported by the right strategies and moves. In the coming period, we will continue to be the locomotive of the Turkish economy by working with the great determination.

What would you like to say when you evaluate Bursa, the capital of textile, with your sectoral identity as the Chairman of BTSO and someone who comes from the textile sector?

Bursa is one of the major actors that currently shape the world textile trade and is followed by its own designs and creations. The textile sector stands out as one of the industries that have the greatest say in the world among the exporting sectors. Our export in the textile sector amounted to $ 1.2 billion due to the contraction in global trade in 2019. In this process, as Bursa textile manufacturers, we managed to carry our exports per kilogram over 8 dollars, while Turkey’s average per kilogram of textile exports, was around $ 4. We have reached an even more special position by carrying our exports per kg in home textiles to $ 10.5 and our average exports per kilogram in clothing fabrics to $ 12.5.

As BTSO, we have established our Textile and Clothing Councils in order to prepare our sector for the future with a common mind. While our councils produce solutions to problems with all stakeholders in Bursa, our sector has become even more open for international competition with new projects that taking shape. In this context; We brought Bursa Textile Show Fair to Bursa. With our P&D and Global Fair Agency projects, we moved our companies to a more advantageous position in the global market. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce, we, as BTSO, have provided an opportunity for our companies to open offices with the Turkish Trade Center we have established in New York. We made great contributions to the foreign trade of our city by bringing many foreign buyers with Bursa-based companies through our Commercial Safari Project. With the Sustainable Home Textile Cluster, we became the first and only institution to receive Ministry support in this field. We are guiding our companies in challenging competition conditions with BUTEKOM, which we have given a new vision, in order to provide assistance for innovative products and value-added exports. I truly hope that we will raise the bar for the success of our textile sector much higher with new works to be carried out under the umbrella of BTSO and UTİB.

On the other hand, the process of change and transformation in all sectors deeply affects our textile industry. This process especially emphasizes innovative ideas, namely innovation and design. If you cannot go beyond the products you produce today, you cannot go beyond short-term success. We have to develop innovative products in this period where countries that make a difference move a step forward in the competition. In this context, I find the Techxtile Start-Up Challenge very valuable, which is established with the aim of increasing the added value in textile exports, bringing new technologies and methods into production processes, and encouraging new entrepreneurs and designers, under the leadership of UTİB. Hopefully, with the contribution of these activities, Our sector will focus on original and high-quality production, together with smart textiles, nanotechnology products and three-dimensional fabric technologies, instead of standard products based on low cost production.

Can you evaluate the targets you want to achieve within the framework of your 2020 projections in line with the motto of BTSO ‘’If Bursa Grows, Turkey Grows’’?

While there is a rapid change and transformation in the world economies, Bursa is on the verge of a new breakthrough with its current economic potential and historical projects under the leadership of our Chamber. The basic condition for competing with the world is to evaluate the opportunity that Bursa and our country have for the new industrial revolution, and to transit to a production model that creates added value. We are taking very important steps to ensure the qualified transformation of our industry with the motto ‘’if Bursa grows, Turkey grows’’ and the consciousness we have.

In this new digital age, where new concepts such as artificial intelligence and the internet of objects significantly change the way our companies do business, we are working to prepare an environment that will amplify our competitiveness. Accordingly, we are realizing TEKNOSAB, our high-tech organized industrial zone, with an investment of 25 billion dollars in order for our companies to adapt to the information and technology required by the new industrial revolution. TEKNOSAB, which is closely followed by our President and that has become Turkey’s project, will add 40 billion dollars of export value to our city with huge investments..

In addition to TEKNOSAB, we are also implementing the SME-OSB project for our small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the driving force of our country’s economy. SME OIZs, which will be the product of our transformation in the industry, constitutes a great opportunity for our companies that remain in the inner part of the city and are scattered, struggle in competition, and pursue growth. While our Model Factory project guides our companies in many areas, from productivity to quality, from lean production to digital transformation, in our small and medium-sized enterprises, in partnership with the public- university-private sectors. Our centers of excellence in the field of textile, technical textiles and advanced composite materials also carry out R&D, innovation and technology- oriented works under the supervision of BUTEKOM.

The Marmara Basin, where our Bursa is located in the center, needs a new spatial planning line with our digital transformation goals and works that we carry out with great enthusiasm. Bursa’s current industrial investment in an area of 11 thousand square kilometers is around 8 per thousand. However, the direct contribution of our industry to the urban economy is at the level of 46 percent. Cities such as Bursa, which have managed to become the economic hub of Turkey with its production ability and entrepreneurial spirit, will take firm steps with spatial planning and new generation incentives. In this context, it is of great importance for the future of our country to conduct rational planning by analyzing the changing conditions in world trade.