The Southeastern Anatolian Exporters Association (GAİB), where four different ‘Exporters Union’ operating in different sectors are gathered under one roof, contributes to the solution of the problems experienced by our exporters, removing obstacles to exports and striving to increase the volume of country’s exports.
The Southeastern Anatolia Region has a deep-rooted history, especially considering weaving. In the Ottoman period, fabrics woven in this region began to be exported, and the contribution to the textile sector of the region continued to increase in the following years. The region is located in the summit domestically with respect to the carpet exports, while it is second in Turkey in Textile and Raw Materials exports.
Ahmet Fikret Kileci, Chairman of the Board of Southeastern Anatolia Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Associations, and presently functioning as GAİB Coordinator, answered our questions for ITM News.
What are the contributions of Southeastern provinces, where textiles manufacturing have a significant volume, to our economy, exports, and foreign trade volume?
In 2018, there is an export record of 1 million 800 million dollars for textiles registered on the name of GAİB. In the January-October 2019 period, 1.5 billion dollars of textile exports were made by the members of the Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Association. We are the second association with the most exports in textiles and raw materials in general with this figure. When we look at the individual province’s overall textile exports in Turkey, Gaziantep, the leader of our region, is ranked second domestically. Import and export data reveal to us that the ratio of exports to imports for Gaziantep is consistently increasing. According to the latest data, this rate was 152.5 percent. Our region, with the strength it gained from its experience with all its provinces, especially Gaziantep, which is the heart of the textile industry and its exports, continues to move the export forward.
New Facilities Established for Cotton and Polyester Yarns in the Southeastern Anatolia Region
Can you please provide us information regarding the investments made in the textile industry in 2019 in the Southeastern Anatolian provinces?
Last year, new facilities for cotton yarn, polyester, and blended yarns were established in our region. These modern facilities will strengthen our infrastructure, which provides quality yarn and fabric supplies. On the other hand, there are apparel investments in our region. We see revisions in the printing and dyeing-finishing departments at the production plants. In the coming period, I think that we will increase our production capacity with these new investments and thus, we can reach more potential customers in our target markets.
What are your roadmap and projects as Southeastern Anatolia Exporters Associations to increase the contribution of Southeastern Anatolia to our foreign trade volume and national economy, especially in the field of textile?
First of all, we try to explain in every platform how important the textile industry is for our region and our country and to express that this industry should be reinforced with increasing value-added production and development. However, if we come to an understanding of the value and accumulation we have in the scope of textiles, we see what we can add to our foreign trade volume and economy. Through this awareness, we can draw a path to increase our contributions.
As Exporters Unions, we prioritize training opportunities and we advance our projects in this manner. You know, trade and export operations are now carried on digital platforms. We are trying to create an awareness in our region with the ‘Digital Transformation, E-Commerce and E-Export’ training sessions that we initiated and try to draw attention to this change. In addition to these awareness training sessions in the provinces of the region, our “E-Commerce Expertise” training in Gaziantep has given graduates twice. The third session is ongoing right now. Through this kind of education projects, we believe that companies that produce and export in various fields, including the textile industry, will help the digital transformation and this transformation will return to us as added-value and high profitability.
On the other hand, within the scope of ‘Inosuit – Innovation Focused Mentoring Project’ that we conduct in cooperation with Turkey Exporters Assembly, two textile companies, which are our union members, are taking mentoring services from the academics of a university in our city in order to provide innovative transformation. We, as the Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Association, provide some of the services that companies receive. We find such projects of our state valuable in terms of supporting the policies that prioritize innovation.
Another project that we are involved in as a union is a campaign that grants scholarships amounting to the minimum employee wage to students who choose the textile engineering department in the university exam, which is organized by Textile, Garment and Leather Products Exporters Union, which operates under the umbrella of the Turkey Exporters Assembly (TIM). As the Southeastern Anatolia Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Association, we took an active role in the announcement of the campaign and achieved very good results. Gaziantep University Textile Engineering department has been starting the education year with incomplete quota previously, but this year it started its education with full capacity and the score of the department has become the second-highest score among all engineering departments. We are the second textile association that provides financial support to this project. We are proud to be a part of this valuable project, which was launched in order to bring successful students to the textile industry.
In addition, we have accelerated our efforts towards our target markets. As a result of the researches about Russia, which is one of our important markets, we realized that Russia has a great potential for textile exports especially in Ivanovo Region and we organized a Textile and Garment Sectoral Trade Committee in this region. This delegation, which included the representatives of the firms from various parts of Turkey that engage in the subcategories of the textile and clothing, such as woven and knitted fabrics, yarn, and garment production visited the textile center of Ivanovo and made onsite market research. Moreover, the delegation had bilateral business meetings with potential buyers. In order to contribute more to our foreign trade volume and national economy in the field of textile, we will continue these kinds of studies towards our target markets.
Can you please share your thoughts on the contributions of the ITM Exhibitions, which bring together the leading brands and latest technologies of the textile industry, related to Turkey’s economy and to the textile sector?
It is very important to hold the exhibition in Istanbul, as it hosts many exhibitions and is a brand city in the international arena. But we also care about regional studies. If such high-participation, deep-rooted exhibitions are organized by determining a different location every year, it will be very meaningful in terms of showing the diversity in the country. In this sense, exhibitions, which became a brand in their respective areas such as the International Textile Machinery Exhibition, can be organized in other large provinces of Turkey, and different colors of our country may be demonstrated. It is a great opportunity for the ITM Exhibition to introduce our region to the world, considering the number of exhibitors and visitors and the diversity of the countries. If exhibition tourism is managed well, very good works emerge. The connections established by domestic companies with international counterparts mostly occur at the exhibitions. Because there are areas where the buyer and the seller have the opportunity to contact directly and that the trust relationship develops among them.
Large-scale Exhibitions Such As the ITM Should Be Promoted More Effectively in Our Region
Do you find sufficient participation of textile manufacturers operating in the Southeastern Anatolian Region to the ITM exhibitions? What advice would you give to the companies on this subject?
I believe that participation from our region should be more. Especially, a region that has advanced so much in the production of the textile sector should participate and visit the ITM exhibitions. More effective and more participation in such large-scale exhibitions from our region should be encouraged.
What kind of activities do you perform as a union in order to encourage companies in the Southeast Anatolian Region to participate in large international exhibitions like the ITM? What kind of cooperation can be formulated with the organizers of such large-scale exhibitions?
As the Southeastern Anatolian Exporters Associations, one of our most effective works is to announce the exhibitions to our members and to organize their participation in these exhibitions. We promote and encourage participation in the exhibitions that are related to the sectors operating under the umbrella of the union. We open an “info stand” in large exhibitions that are important for the sector, and distribute the promotional materials we have prepared to potential buyers. In addition, we set up procurement delegation organizations at the time of major exhibitions such as the ITM, we bring together international companies and our members through these platforms.
We can increase the number of procurement delegations organized in cooperation with the exhibition organizers. In addition, we can organize events, panels, conferences, competitions, etc., which can be utilized by both exhibitors and visitors in the exhibition area simultaneously with the exhibition.
In fact, the biggest issue is advertising in the best possible way for the exhibition as in many other jobs. At this point, organizers have a lot of work to do. Exhibitors can be found to attend the exhibition in one way or another, and the stands can be filled, but the visitor side of the exhibition varies completely depending on how well the organizers promote the exhibition. We can say that one of the best promotion channels of the organizers is exporters associations. Because we already have a network of manufacturers and exporters. If digital and printed exhibition promotion materials are effectively communicated to us, we can encourage participation in exhibitions using this network.
Apart from that, as you may know, as exporters associations, we provide support to the exhibitions that are held both domestically and internationally and which are covered by the Ministry of Trade.