As you already know, we have entered into a new era where world politics and hence world trade are quite challenging, upsetting and turbulent compared to previous periods.

Can we get your sectoral assessment for the last year, as the Chairman of UTİB in Bursa, the capital of textile? In addition, Would you like to share your views on the possible growth targets and forecasts for 2020?

As you already know, we have entered into a new era where world politics and hence world trade are quite challenging, upsetting and turbulent compared to previous periods.

The export of Turkey’s textile sector is expected to account for $ 8 billion, with an estimated 6% decrease at the end of the year. On the other hand, this situation is not only meant for Turkey’s textile export. In the top 10 countries exporting the most textiles in the world, (China, Germany, South Korea, etc.) there is a decrease in export rates based on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2019 compared to the last year.

Our sector has always been among the main sectors in Turkey’s economy with a sectoral feature, creating the most foreign trade surplus (about $ 15 billion foreign trade surplus per year) and the most jobs percentage-wise, (with 1 million direct and 2 million indirect sectors) with an export volume of approximately 8 billion dollars in textile and 18 billion dollars in ready-to- wear in 2019.

If we evaluate the textile sector country-wide and global-wide, what kind of scenarios are waiting for us in 2020?

We have upgraded to a position, who can design, produce, and develop. However, our goals and capabilities are well above the current situation at the moment. We pursue to reach a position that does not comply with standards only, but sets the standards and directs the world textile industry.

Nowadays, it is not enough just to produce what is best. We truly need to make an effort to focus on the best of ways that are efficient, eco-friendly and most value-added in production to increase sectoral competitiveness.

Additionally, we must also combine the experience of the previous generations with the future. To actualise this, our R&D investments are still continuing without slowing down. When looking at the number of R & D centers Turkey-wide, we see that Turkish textile industry is among the top 5 sectors with 78 R&D centers.

We thankfully reap what we sow. Although the average export price per kilogram of Turkey’s overall exports is under 1.3 dollars, Turkey’s textile sector has captured the $ 4 level, and while the export unit price in textiles over $ 8, Turkish textile industry has captured the $ 4 level in export. UTİB’s export per unit price in textile is over 8 dollars.

In subgroups, this figure can go even higher. As an example, the value of our union in space textiles is 10 USD per kilogram. Our export of apparel fabrics is around 12.5 USD.

We are truly happy to have achieved this level of value by producing value-added products. However, our main goal is to reach the levels of competitors, of whom we are definitely not back in quality. Passing even higher unit prices that our competitors have achieved with branding is also among our must-do list.

In terms of increasing the resources allocated to R&D, there have been important positive developments in our country, especially in the last 10 years. In 2023, it is targeted that 1.8 percent of the national income will be allocated to R&D and that it will be majorly realized by the private sector. We believe that these targets will be an important driving force in the missions to be carried out in order to compete on par with the developed nations. Currently, this rate is 1 percent in Turkey, while 2,75 in the United States, 2.94 in Germany and 3.14 in Japan while 4.29 in South Korea..

When we look at the export kilogram values in the world technical textile exporting countries, it has been 8.05 USD in Germany, 6.25 USD in the Korean Republic and 8.96 USD in the United States, while the kg value of Turkey is 3.08 USD. We need to double this value at least in the medium term.

We do believe that each Turkish Lira where Turkey allocate to R & D and innovation, is precious. Its implementation to the industry is extremely crucial. In this regard, we have determined the technological areas that textile companies prioritize primarily in our field studies.

Currently, we want all our entrepreneurs who believe in the importance of innovation to apply these areas with innovative ideas.

With TechXtile Start-Up Challenge, we focused on projects that are applicable, merchantable, scalable, technologically innovative and profound, and supportive of national and domestic production.

That is why, we provide entrepreneurship and innovation training and mentoring to project owners. We plan to bring them together with potential customers and help to incorporate them and to amplify entrepreneurs that stand out over time with incubation and additional backings.

If you make an assessment based on the previous 2 years, How many players were there in the Turkish textile sector? What would you say about the point we have reached today?

While there were around 10,700 textile and raw- material exporter companies in Turkey in 2017, this number rose to over 11,800 in 2019. We are definitely pleased with this positive picture. What is important for us is to further the operations of these companies with various projects, and pursue our efforts in this direction.

In exports by country, the sum of our export to the European Union countries constitutes 55% of the exports to all countries. This rate is quite low when compared to our other sectors and this is a kind of insurance. The balanced expansion of Turkish textile exports to different countries prevents our industry to be at risk in crisis situations that may occur regionally. Turkish sector has been successfully implementing market diversification in the recent period.

In the light of commercial developments in the world, what is your expectation for the new year in the context of export?

We think that there will be an increase in the number of exporters in the sector. There is a recovery in the imports of Russian and the Commonwealth of Independent States from Turkey. On the other hand, as a result of political and economic tensions and mutual taxation between the USA and China, there is an increase in the interest of companies in the US and China compared to the previous years. Moreover, there will be a revival in the developing African markets. In this context, the number of exporting companies will develop positively next year.