Jak Eskinazi, Chairman of the Board of Aegean Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Association and Aegean Exporters’ Associations Coordinator Chairman said that ‘‘Taking part in international exhibitions such as ITM is very important for they provide opportunities where we can observe what our competitors are producing and analyze and evaluate our companies in addition to enabling one-to-one communication of our companies with their customers.’’
Aegean Region, with his great contribution to the national economy, has the distinction of being one of the larger and leading powers in Turkey. Aegean Region, which holds the second place after Marmara Region in terms of socio-economic development, has improved itself in a wide range of sectors such as food, vegetable products, textiles, electrical-electronics, petroleum-chemistry, machinery, automotive, iron and steel processing, and tourism, all of which possess a high added value.
Aegean Region is one of our regions where domestic and foreign trade is most developed. The most obvious indicator of this is the fact is that in the export rankings of Turkey on the basis of provinces, every year İzmir, Manisa, and Denizli are positioned in the top 10, whereas many Aegean companies are positioned in the top 100 and top 500 in terms of business sizes.
Established in 1940, Aegean Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Association (ETHİB) pursues its activities with 417 members as of January 2018. We interviewed with Jak Eskinazi, ETHİB Chairman of the Board and Aegean Exporters’ Associations Coordinator Chairman, for ITM News. Eskinazi, providing information regarding contributions of the Aegean Region to the economy of Turkey and the studies performed in order to increase the technical textile exports, told the exhibitions that they attended and related achievements.
What are the contributions of the Aegean Region, one of the centers of the textile industry, to our economy, exports, and foreign trade volume? Can you please explain this contribution in numbers?
Turkey’s overall exports for 2018 increased by 7 percent compared to the previous year and amounted to 168 billion dollars. Our overall Turkish textile exports increased by 5 percent in 2018 and reached to an amount of 8.5 billion dollars. Our ready-to-wear exports amounted to 17.6 billion dollars. This corresponds to an increase of approximately 3.5 percent. As the textile and apparel sectors, we are one of the industries that contributed the most to Turkey’s exports.
Our total exports from the Aegean Region increased by 13 percent to 13.3 billion dollars. Our textile exports in the Aegean Region increased by 3 percent in 2018 and reached an amount of 257 million dollars. Ready-to-wear exports from our region increased by 7 percent in 2018 and amounted to 1 billion and 355 million dollars.
Can you share with us your expectations and forecasts about the investments and course of exports of the textile industry in 2019-2020 in the Aegean Region?
Our industry has been affected by local parameters, especially due to economic fluctuations. I think that we achieved a significant success in 2018 and in 2019 despite the situation arising from both the world economy and the internal conjuncture. I think that the course of investments and exports will continue in a similar pattern to the previous year.
What are your roadmap and projects as ETHİB to increase the contributions of the Aegean Region to our foreign trade volume and national economy, especially in the field of textile?
We are aware that the way to increase our export figures in our textile and garment sectors is through value-added production. Our activities in 2019 continue in this direction with studies for technical textile production and export.
Between 14 and 17 May 2019, we actualized the German Textile Sector Trade Delegation organization and visited the world’s leading Techtextil exhibition within the scope of the delegation.
We also organized a delegation organization for the ITMA exhibition organized in Barcelona between 20 and 26 June 2019.
In order to increase the share of technical textiles in textile exports, our TEKSMER Project, which is supported by İZKA, continues to contribute to our region with its new dimension through the collaboration of Aegean Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Union, Aegean Clothing and Apparel Exporters Union and Dokuz Eylul University. Our studies on the training, tests, and projects demanded by the companies of our region continue unremittingly.
As a union, you participated in many international exhibitions in 2018 and 2019, both promoting Turkish textile products and increased our export revenues. Can you please explain the importance of participation of the companies to international exhibitions?
Textile and ready-to-wear sectors are among the industries where competition is pretty intense as in many other industries. The faster we can catch the competitiveness, technology, trends, and demands, the more advantageous we will get. Taking part in international exhibitions such as ITM is very important for they provide opportunities where we can observe what our competitors are producing and analyze and evaluate our companies in addition to enabling one-to-one communication of our companies with their customers.
Can you please share your thoughts on the contributions of the ITM Exhibition related to Turkey’s economy and to the textile sector?
One of the most important features of the exhibitions is the demonstration and follow-up of new trends and innovative products. I think the ITM 2020 Exhibition is an important exhibition in terms of following the new developments in the textile industry. At the same time, I think the ITM 2020 Exhibition is an important exhibition that enables textile machinery manufacturers to open up international markets by proving themselves in the domestic market and an important gateway for them to turn towards exports.
‘‘We continue to develop the exports of technical textile oriented, high value-added products’’
If we define the Technical Textiles in Turkey as a ‘Shining Star’, we will not be mistaken. Having reached an export potential of 100 million dollars annually in the Aegean Region, the regional technical textile exporters decided to cluster in the Supporting the Development of International Competitiveness project supported by the Ministry of Trade in order to get more shares from the world technical textile market. Can you please explain the importance of this project, your goals and the steps to be taken to increase our presence in the technical textiles industry?
We initiated our Supporting the Development of International Competitiveness project named ‘Increasing the Export Potential in Technical Textile Sector’. We aim to improve the export of high value-added products of our companies with a focus on technical textiles, to enable companies that do not produce technical textiles to switch from conventional production to manufacturing of technical textiles and to increase their market shares and product range, and to ensure continuity in their exports and production. At the same time, through this project, our companies are provided to plan their organizations conveniently for exports. As I mentioned before, we are aware that the way to increase our exports in our textile and ready-to-wear sectors is through value-added products and we will continue related activities to increase the value-added production of our members such as sectoral trade delegations, trade expo organizations, Supporting the Development of International Competitiveness project activities, and training services for our members. With TEKSMER, the training, tests, and projects needed by the companies of our region will continue at an accelerated rate.
‘‘HIGHTEX Exhibition is Important for the Follow-up of Value-Added Products and Innovations’’
As Teknik Exhibition Organization, we are holding the HIGHTEX exhibition (International Technical Textiles and Nonwoven Exhibition) simultaneously with the ITM exhibition. Can you please share your opinions about the achievements of HIGHTEX to the Turkish textile industry?
I think that the exhibitions, especially for value-added products, are important for our companies to meet with customers and to follow-up on innovations. Also regarding HIGHTEX exhibition, I would say that it fulfills an important service in terms of the demonstration and follow-up on nonwoven products, which have the highest export figure of overall technical textile exports in Turkey.
What kind of activities do you perform as a union in order to encourage companies in Aegean 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?
We constantly inform our members about domestic and international exhibition supports by the state institutions. We encourage our members to go to these exhibitions. National participation organizations are organized by exporter associations in many exhibitions organized around the globe. Apart from that, we try to cooperate with the exhibition administrations in order to support our members to go to these exhibitions and provide them with advantageous conditions. From time to time, our association finds the opportunity to share their experiences with the industry by organizing study visits to these exhibitions and watching them on site.
Interview: Dilek HAYIRLI