Istanbul’s Merter district, one of Turkey’s textile and ready-wear centers, is recovering from a 30 percent contraction in exports due to struggles in the Russian market. The industry seeks to revive exports by opening up to new markets.
Ercan Tan, chairman of MESÄ°AD, said the district’s companies are focusing on branding and increasing variety to minimize effects of the contraction in global demand.
Companies in Merter, who had been eyeing Africa and the Middle East for a while, are now focusing on Iraq and Sudan as new export markets.
The companies are getting ready to hold a Turkish Fashion and Ready-Wear Fair in Baghdad in February under the auspices of the Merter Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, or MESÄ°AD.
The companies will also send a delegation to Sudan by the end of the year to seek cooperation opportunities.
Nearly 300 companies will send delegations to the two countries, said Ercan Tan, chairman of MESÄ°AD. Tan said they aim to increase total exports to the two countries to $3.5 billion next year from the current level of nearly $2 billion.
Tan said the Iraqi market in particular offers great opportunities for Turkish firms. “Even though we have had some commercial ties with the country for a long time, Iraq is quite a new market for textile and ready-wear companies.”
“There is a repressed demand in Iraq due to the occupation period. Some Italian and British companies are currently dominant in the country. We know that some companies such as Zara and Mango are also seeking big projects. As Turkish [textile] companies, we will [represent ourselves] for the first time in Baghdad in February,” he said.
Tan noted that there is a great interest in the fair, which will be organized by Forum FuarcÄ±lÄ±k from Feb. 23 to Feb. 26. “Nearly 200 companies will attend the fair. We may invite companies from all over Turkey, not just from Merter. We see great demand from various companies. We are negotiating with the related ministries in Iraq to expand the 3,000-square-meter area reserved for us. If we get to expand, we will be able to attend with more than 200 companies.”
Tan said Sudan is both a new market for Turkey and a good choice for its companies, because the country has 42 million people who are generally favorable toward Turkey. He also said Sudanese women are a significant source of demand for exporters.
The national dresses of Muslim Sudanese women are made from five meters of fabric, Tan said. “Turkish companies do not have any share – not even one meter of these clothes. We want to meet with Sudanese companies by the end of the year to build commercial relations. Sudan is also seeking investments. During a visit to MESÄ°AD, Sudanese officials said they could give us thousands of acres of land for free.”