Speaking about the destructive effects of the global crisis on the automobile sector, a top representative of the industry said now is the time to "heal wounds."
At a press conference in Istanbul Thursday, Cengiz Kabatepe, president of Turkey’s Automobile Industry Promotion Committee, or OETK, said the sector should be ready for "the great match to start in the aftermath of the crisis."
"We are living through a non-desirable break in the industry, but we will definitely play the second half," Kabatepe said.
Due to the global crisis, automobile exports in the first half of the year fell 48.9 percent while employment dropped 15 percent, he noted, adding that despite all odds, the sector will overcome this formidable challenge.
"The temporary private consumption tax relief from the government has stimulated the domestic market, raising morale in all sectors," he said. "But such measures have short-term and limited effects on production. For a sustainable competitiveness, permanent stimulus packages should be enacted."
Government aid that is delivered "as part of a long-term strategic plan" may turn Turkey into a production center, contributing to the country’s development, Kabatepe said. "The crisis wounded us, but we are on our feet. Now is the time to heal wounds and prepare for the big match that is to start in the aftermath of the crisis. The automobile industry, despite all its current problems, is the way out for Turkey."
A locomotive sector
"The automobile sector is the locomotive of Turkey," he added. "Factories in Turkey are the best, the most productive and the most qualified factories of global brands. It is a way to sell cars [abroad] that are produced in Turkey."
The auto sector is also a serious supplier for high-added value segments, he reminded, noting that Turkey has a very successful sub-industry.
"In commercial vehicles, Turkey has attained astounding success," he said. "If Turkey can grab the logistical opportunities that its geographical location creates, it can be extremely competitive."
Noting that Istanbul is vying to be a "global city," Kabatepe suggested that Istanbul and other Turkish cities may be "design heavens" if the necessary incentives are implemented. "Let us make Turkey a new base for global design, research and development in automotive, fashion, medicines, health equipment and electronics."
Speaking at the press conference, Ferit Sünneli, president of the Uludağ Exporters Union of Vehicles and Sub-Industry, or UTAYSİB, said exports in the sector dipped in January.
"Despite the deep crisis, automobile sector representatives raised their share of exports among the top 1,000 exporters 16.5 percent to $21.8 billion," Sünneli said.