Insights from Turkey…
Hayrettin Yalnızcan, SSL’s Turkish Office Manager leads our team in Bursa. His main aim, together with his colleagues, is to create new business opportunities as well as support our existing client base.
In addition to, their role is to develop not only TR but also the surrounding region. In this article, we will focus on our operations in Turkey, our development in challenging markets, and some personal insights. Before doing so, we wanted to show respect to all refugees and displaced people on this, International Refugee Day.
This article is being compiled with a heavy heart, the statistics below are a reminder of the world we live in, a reminder that we cannot forget the plight of 65.3 million innocent people who have been forced to flee their homes without any destination. People who have loved and lost everything, and who face a future so uncertain that it breaks our hearts. These incredibly strong people deserve not only our respect, but, our total support.
The following figure was taken from The UN Refugee Agency’s page 1, recorded in 2015:
However just how serious is this crisis?
Historically, we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement ever. 34,000 people leave their homes behind each day, due to conflict or persecution. Over half of all the refugees are children. “Globally, nearly one in 200 children is a refugee. The number of child refugees has more than doubled in the last decade.” 2 Despite all the difficulties and uncertainty in Turkey, they host the most refugees worldwide.
We chose to interview Hayrettin to further understand how this crisis has affected the Turkish market and to shed some insight on SSL’s operations there.
Beautiful Bursa, Turkey by night
Since starting the SSL office in TR, we have faced multiple obstacles, how has this impacted the TR economy, people, etc.?
Those obstacles have impacted us across the board and not necessarily in a positive way, this said, I believe Turkey is incredibly resilient and at some point, we will come back. We have both internal and external issues, no need for me to point them out, this would normally impact the economy and force unnatural inflation hikes, it didn’t; the economy didn’t react like that, but of course we are having some challenges.
The Euro to Turkish Lira exchange rate has grown over 25% in the last year. Essentially, Turkey mainly imports products from Europe. When the Euro grows a lot, it has a drastically negative effect on the volume of Turkish imports.
Another serious problem we had, was the downing of the Russian jet; it continues to haunt us to this very day as Russia cut all the imports from Turkey and only permits very few, trusted exporting companies’ goods. The furniture, textile, and foodstuff markets are all very dormant now. We are always looking for new opportunities coupled with new solutions. When the Russian market is closed, people go to the Middle East or the North African market. We could also try to sell more to Europe which is always a very trusted area for Turkey as well.
How and to what extent has the refugee crisis affected business and Turkey itself?
This is a very sad situation, for all of humanity. The population in Syria was around 20 million at one point, and now after the crisis about 30-35% of them have been forced to flee their homes. Some of them came to Turkey, others to Lebanon and of course, also to Europe. It is a sad state of affairs when a population has to endure mass exodus.
The economic impact is that Turkey had a great business relationship in the past with Syria. We are neighbours, we used to trade foodstuffs, electronics, textiles, etc. with each other, but now this is all gone. Trade is important to Turkey, and the lack of it can be really damaging.
How are you expecting the market, the economy, and Turkey to change from now onwards?
We never give up hope, we are a large dynamic country In the Middle East. We are one of the biggest markets, unfortunately there are many countries around us that can’t sell and chase business opportunities like we can, in Turkey. We have a strong geographical position with raw materials and as such, I believe we are a crucial exporter. A skilled workforce is also attractive for investors and as such, we can prove to produce high quality materials. However, working on our diplomacy could be a positive move forward.
What do you think should be SSL’s next move in the Middle East and how could we manage this?
When we were first talking about opening the branch in Turkey, Management were keen to look at the possibilities to open satellite offices in Israel, Iran, and Iraq. Our business is developing in these areas but we will wait before breaking ground there for an office due to the current tensions.
The dynamics are always changing very quickly here, but we need to focus on the possibilities and opportunities in this area. There are many, we need to find and create them. I believe the Arabic peninsula will be the next and the best environment for open business possibilities.
What do you enjoy the most about working with SSL?
The “Customer is King” philosophy first and foremost, excellent teamwork and the annual soiree of all offices under one roof. It’s great to know there is a short line of communication to management. No office is isolated regardless of geography, it’s team SSL all the way.
SSL Team TR
“We never give up hope, we are a large dynamic country In the Middle East.”
Thank you Team SSL TR for your continuous efforts in this very difficult and challenging market, and for sharing with us your thoughts and insight.
1 Emma Batha, “Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis in 2016. In numbers,” World Economic Forum, December 05, 2016, accessed June 15, 2017, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/europes-refugee-and-migrant-crisis-in-2016-in-numbers.
2 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Figures at a Glance,” UNHCR, 2016, accessed June 15, 2017, http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html.