Turkey should diversify its export markets: Experts

By Tuba Sahin and Gokhan Ergocun

BURSA, Turkey (AA) – Turkey should diversify its export markets and work on stable economic growth domestically, said speakers at a major economic conference in Turkey on Friday.

Speaking at the 8th Uludag Economy Summit in Bursa, northwestern Turkey, Robin Brooks, chief economist at the U.S.-based Institute of International Finance, stressed that Europe still faces many issues, including difficulties with the euro currency.

"There are other export markets that Turkey can cultivate and so I think that is important to try and diversify the exports base. Turkish producers are doing that," he added.

Highlighting global challenges such as geopolitical risks, the protectionist policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s low interest rates, Robin said the appeal of emerging markets is “fundamentally” growing more difficult.

Robin stated that global challenges are driving emerging markets including Turkey to reduce their dependence on external capital.

“If you need external capital you want to be very transparent and to promote predictable policies. I am hopeful Turkey will do that,” he added.

Timothy Ash, senior strategist for emerging markets at London-based BlueBay Asset Management, stressed that 2018 was a tough year for investors.

He said investors in Turkey expect normalization in policy after the country’s March 31 local elections.

"And we want to see continued, orthodox, credible monetary policy. Reforms politicians talked about in 2018 should be delivered this year," he underlined.

Umit Leblebici, the CEO of private Turkish lender TEB bank, said 2018 was difficult not only for Turkey, but also for all emerging markets due to shifting U.S. Fed policies policies and falling liquidity.

"If the world trade decreases, it will be bad for productivity. All G20 countries should ensure coordination to reduce risks and raise productivity," he added.

Leblebici also said that Turkey, situated between the East and West, is a part of the world with its $400 billion in foreign trade.

The two-day Uludag Economy Summit, which started on Friday, focuses on industry, trade, manufacturing, finance, energy, agriculture and technology.

The summit attracts businesspeople, economists, top officials and academics from Turkey and around the world.