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Berke Içten (Türkiye): we are aiming to reach 5-6 billion USD dollars in exports

Jan 16, 2023 Turkey
Today we bring you the first part of a nice conversation with Berke Içten, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Footwear Industrialists Association of Türkiye. We talked about the Turkish footwear industry, its future, main difficulties, and strengths


Turkish footwear industry

The Turkish footwear industry is going through a very good period. In 2021, our exports have increased by around 24% -25%, in terms of value, and at the same time, around 15% in terms of quantity. So, we can say that the pandemic has had a positive impact on Turkish footwear exports, so far. Last year, we have surpassed the 1 billion USD with our exports. This was the first time it happened for the Turkish footwear industry. And this year, in the first 8 months of the financial year, our exports also increased around 16%-17% in terms of quantity. So, we are expecting to end this year around 1.25-1.30 billion USD. Our expectation for the short and medium-term targets for the coming years is to approach 3 billion US dollars. We are working with our traditional markets, such as Russia and Ukraine, Central Asia, North Africa, and Arabic countries. But in recent years we have increased exports, much more, to Europe than to the other countries.

Future of the footwear industry

When you consider the nearby countries of Türkiye, for example, the ones with flight distance from Istanbul of 2 to 3-hour, there is a market that totals around 60 billion US dollars, calculated according to the World Footwear Yearbook. So, we expect in the near future to reach 5-6 billion USD dollars. It is not a target that far for us. In the last few years, Turkey has gone through different situations concerning the political condition, considering the nearby countries, and social and political situation. So, Turkish manufacturers have gone through very difficult testimonials, but that has created an industry that is strong enough to continue its growth; and I think, in the near future, we will observe these targets.

Difficulties and challenges

The uncertainty, of course, is a challenge. The business is going well at this moment. Our exports are increasing. The supply chain problems deriving from the pandemic have impacted positively Türkiye. But there is also one part that is uncertain. Also, the war between Ukraine and Russia, and the tensions in China and Taiwan are also issues of disturbance for our industry. The main challenge for the industry will be the economic crisis and the recession expectations for the United States and Europe.

Strengths

We can have flexibility, produce small quantities, and deliver very fast shipments in 2 or 3 days; when we ship our products, we can reach the far east part of the European Union quickly. Our population is very young, we are a very young country and with the support of our government, we are implementing some occupational education system also, with students going to work in the industry for 4 days and 1 day they are going to the schools for the occupational education. So, in this new project, we are expecting to receive more young people in our industry. The footwear industry relates on talent, we need talented workers, we need talented workers. And in order to continue and sustain our labour quality we need more young people to come into the industry.


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This interview was recorded in September 2022


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