Turkey: Time for Investment?

By Sean Moloughney, Managing Editor | July 9, 2012

EDANA symposium highlights the growing presence of an emerging nation.

The importance of Turkey in the nonwovens industry has been growing steadily, according to EDANA, the International Nonwovens Association serving the nonwovens and related industries, which held its EurAsia symposium in Istanbul, Turkey, in May.

Turkey has been a “positive strategic trading point throughout the centuries,” notes Pierre Wiertz, general manager, EDANA. As the country continues to be among the leading producers of textiles and agricultural products, EDANA is committed to supporting local companies, especially as new doors open to international free trade. Turkey offers particular advantages to reaching people in Russia and Africa, as well as meeting needs in Western Europe, he says.

According to Jacques Prigneaux, market analysis and economic affairs director, EDANA, Tukey represents  “a real success story reflecting the business success of our members.”

Production of roll goods in Turkey showed “impressive growth rates” over the last two years, he adds. Turkish exports increased, mainly to Russia and the Middle East, while imports of nonwovens decreased. Development in local demand and increased deliveries to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have contributed to a growing economy.

According to Mustafa Mente, deputy secretary general, Turkish Exporters Assembly, Turkey’s growth rate of exports reached 18% (CAGR) in 2011, which is down slightly from 21% from 2000 to 2008 but still positive.

In terms of nonwovens market segments in Greater Europe, hygiene is by far the largest, representing 31.8%. Building/roofing represents 11.7%; wipes-personal care 10.7%. Meanwhile, automotive has been the fastest-growing market, according to Prigneaux.

In Turkey, for 2011, hygiene represented 31% of the nonwovens market; wipes 29%; home 12%; apparel 10%; construction 5%; automotive 3%; medical 2%; and other 8%. Prigneaux predicts the Turkish baby diaper market will grow along with the adult incontinence, feminine hygiene and personal care markets.

Total nonwovens capacity in Turkey in 2010 was 180,000 tons, according to Berna Yalcin, R&D manager, Hayat Personal Care in Turkey. The baby diaper market consists of about four billion diapers per year, representing a €578.7 million business in 2010 (about $728.3 million). The feminine hygiene market is worth about €200 million (or $251.7 million). The market for general purpose wet wipes was approximately €18.8 million ($23.7 million) in 2010 and the baby care wet wipes market was €148 million ($186.3 million).

Mente referred to the 1990s as “the lost decade” for Turkey, which experienced high public debt, great volatility in financial markets and severe inflation (80-120%). Today, however, the country enjoys more economic stability and growth; low inflation and interest rates; and a growing middle class with access to high quality goods, new products and services. Inflation is still high but not as problematic as it has been in the past, he notes.

Turkey will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its republic in 2023 and has set several economic goals to reach by that time, including increasing GDP to $2 trillion. Current GDP is at about $735 billion.

With half of its 75 million people under the age of 30, Turkey has a young, educated and productive labor force, and the government is focused on enhancing the private sector’s role in the economy, opening key markets to competition and inviting investors from all over the world.

Looking to become a regional hub for investors with access to multiple markets, Turkey is currently the fastest growing economy in Europe among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.