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Turkey’s machinery industry poised for growth in EU markets

12 May 20246 min reading

Kutlu Karavelioğlu
Turkish Machinery Exporters Association
President / Başkan

According to the consolidated data of the machinery manufacturing industry shared by the Machinery Exporters’ Association (MAİB), Turkey’s total machinery exports, including those from free zones, reached 6.9 billion dollars in the first quarter of the year. Kutlu Karavelioğlu, President of the Association of Machinery Exporters, highlighted the decreasing stress on economies in the northern hemisphere with the onset of spring. He stated, “As the concept of strategic protectionism exacerbates conflicts of interest between poles, new cooperation opportunities emerge among countries with strong ties along the same axis. Particularly in the European Union, where hopes of loosening unilateral ties with Chinese companies prevail, Turkey’s significance is on the rise. This shift will undoubtedly influence China’s perspective on investing in Turkey. It’s a natural consequence that protective policies in alignment with global trends will attract investment to our country, particularly benefiting our sector.”

Based on the consolidated data of the machinery manufacturing industry, Turkey’s total machinery exports, including those from free zones, surpassed 850 thousand tons, reaching 6.9 billion dollars by the end of the first three months of the year. Despite experiencing a 2.5 percent decline in the same period this year, attributed to a 150 million dollar drop in March, machinery exports had seen increases of 9.6 percent and 19.1 percent in the first quarters of the previous two years, respectively. Key commodity groups in the first quarter saw notable growth, with turbines and turbojets increasing by 25 percent, heaters and ovens by 17 percent, and textile and apparel machinery by 16 percent. However, there were revenue losses in electric motors and generators amounting to 104 million dollars, domestic and industrial cooling machines at 83 million dollars, and tractors and agricultural machinery at 33 million dollars during the same period. Although exports to the USA, one of Turkey’s top machinery export destinations, continued to rise, there were significant decreases of around 20 percent in the Russian and Italian markets compared to the same period last year.

“THE WIND CONTINUES TO BLOW AGAINST US”

Expressing satisfaction for overcoming the first quarter, marked by heightened caution in global investments, with a modest decline in machinery and equipment exports, Kutlu Karavelioğlu, President of the Machinery Exporters’ Association, stated: “Since the latter half of last year, industrialists have faced headwinds due to global inflation, high interest rates, and geopolitical risks. Despite the increased rather than decreased risks associated with regional conflicts during this period, there’s a noticeable reduction in economic stress in the northern hemisphere as spring unfolds. Last year marked the first contraction in machinery and equipment investments by 2 percent globally, with machinery manufacturing and exports contracting by 1 percent. However, with the anticipated acceleration in economies in the months ahead, we expect these figures to align with 2022 performance. While the lingering effects of the flattening trends in the last quarter of 2023 persist, our sector, which witnessed a 13 percent increase in investments and a 9 percent rise in production, resulting in an 11 percent uptick in exports, shows no signs of concerning inertia. Leveraging its integration with developed countries, the Turkish machinery sector will swiftly respond to the recovery in the European Union and the United States, anticipated to commence with interest rate cuts. Turkey, with its competitive edge, will maintain its position among nations experiencing above-average growth.”

“EU TO END UNILATERAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA”

Highlighting a phenomenon that is prominent worldwide, Karavelioğlu underscored the hegemonic rivalries in trade, production, and technology, which may not garner as much attention as regional conflicts. He stated: “As the crisis of globalization, which became apparent before the pandemic, deepens, new scenarios for division of labor among developing countries are emerging in the competition between the EU, the US, and China. The concept of strategic protectionism exacerbates conflicts of interest between the poles, leading to the creation of new cooperation opportunities among countries with strong ties along the same axis. Particularly in the European Union, which aims to loosen its unilateral connections with Chinese firms, Turkey’s significance is steadily increasing.”


Karavelioğlu cited the European Commission’s investigation into a consortium of Chinese companies in Romania as an example. “For a while now, the European Commission has been sharply criticizing China for its failure to adopt liberal foreign trade policies,” he said. “The EU is unwilling to tolerate China’s practice of subsidies and incentives, which lead to unfair competition, as well as domestic regulations that hinder foreign investors. Consequently, the long-awaited introduction of sanctions in Europe and reciprocal restrictions on Chinese firms in specific sectors is finally materializing. We increasingly encounter the repercussions of this escalating struggle in sectoral meetings, where concerns about lopsided and unilateral interest relations are voiced loudly. The EU’s determination to diversify its suppliers, particularly in machinery manufacturing, has refocused attention on Turkey. This presents a significant opportunity for Turkey, with our industry actively engaging in initiatives such as the European Green Deal and Border Carbon Adjustment, and our Exporters’ Association taking an integrative role in preparing our members for the forthcoming changes.”

“CHINA’S INVESTMENT IN TURKEY SHOULD MATCH EU”

Highlighting Turkey’s 11.7 billion dollar deficit solely from machinery trade with China last year, Karavelioğlu underscored the caution Europe aims to adopt against China’s aggressive policies. He concluded, “In 2023, amidst a global rise in tariff and non-tariff barriers alongside economic stagnation, we sold 11.4 billion dollars of machinery to the EU, from which we imported 20.9 billion dollars’ worth. Conversely, despite a notable 18.8 percent increase, our sales to China, where we imported 11.9 billion dollars’ worth of machinery, amounted to only 155 million dollars due to formidable customs barriers. While the EU, representing 41 percent of our exports, favors our high-value-added machines, we encounter obstacles in China, accounting for 26 percent of our imports... We anticipate the EU’s complaints about unilateral trade, a long-standing issue, will significantly alter China’s perspective on investing in Turkey. With a 9.1 percent decrease in machinery imports from China and a 33.9 percent decrease from India in the first two months of the year, attributed to import regime measures, it’s natural to expect that protective policies aligned with global trends will attract investment to our country, particularly to our sector.”

ABOUT MAİB

Our sector, which exports more than 60 percent of its products to Europe and the USA, has multiplied its exports by 15 times in the last 22 years, reaching $28.2 billion in exports by the end of 2023. Turkey’s machinery manufacturers exhibited a performance that outpaced their competitors, increasing their exports by 9.6 percent compared to 2022.

The Machinery Exporters’ Association, also known as Turkey’s Machinery Manufacturers, has played a significant role in this systematically escalating success of the machinery sector since its inception in 2002, bringing together over 23,000 enterprises under one umbrella. The establishment of our association, a crucial force in the sector’s institutionalization, has empowered our exporters with lobbying capabilities to address their demands in foreign trade and resolve their issues.

Turkey’s Machinery Manufacturers consistently enhance the sector’s visibility through overseas promotional activities, participation in fairs, and various delegation arrangements. By fostering sector-specific collaborations on international platforms, we not only facilitate vital business connections for our member firms but also perpetually elevate the brand awareness of our sector.

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