WE MUST BE READY TO FUTURE
As in the whole world, 2020 has been a difficult year for our country as we struggle with pandemics, natural disasters and different problems. I think we will divide this process into two as pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. While our habits and lifestyle are changing rapidly with the pandemic, we are rapidly moving towards a 'new world order' in which 'digitalization' is at the center. We are in a big crossroads and transformation, and we have to keep up with this transformation.
Although 2019 had a difficult start, our country grew by 0.9% in the third quarter and by 6% in the fourth quarter. With these figures, we started 2020 with hope, but with the pandemic, all world economies experienced a great shock.
In the first quarter of 2020, Turkey grew by 4.5 percent, but international trade was interrupted with the epidemic that was first seen in our country in March.
With the closure of customs, we experienced disruptions in our exports. Unfortunately, the stagnation in production and exports, which form the basis of our economy, adversely affected our business world.
In the face of difficulties, the public's reflexes regarding the process, the steps taken and the opportunities offered on issues such as taxes, SGK premium debts, short-time working allowance, and access to finance ensured that this first wave was overcome.
With the recovery of the first shock in the world, the barriers to international trade were lifted and export channels were reopened. With this process called controlled normal, our production and exports revived. Accordingly, our country grew by 6.7 percent in the third quarter.
As Gaziantep, we continued our production, export and employment despite the pandemic.
The production of the food products that our city is strong in and the fabrics used in the production of protective masks and overalls became much more strategic, and these products, which are the primary needs of the whole world, were sent from Gaziantep.
Despite all the difficulties, we closed 2019 with a record export of 7.5 billion dollars, we started 2020 with the highest January exports, and our increase continued in February.
However, with the outbreak of the epidemic in our country, unfortunately, there were serious decreases in the exports of our city in March, April and May. As of June, we started to increase again and as Gaziantep, despite the pandemic, we closed the year 2020 with a record by exporting 7 billion 935 million 814 thousand dollars. Our city became the 5th province with the highest export in 2020.
In the January-February period of this year, Gaziantep's exports increased by 13.9% compared to the same period of the previous year and reached 1 billion 419 million 105 thousand dollars. We continue to be the 5th largest exporting province.
In this tiring process, as industrialists, we produce, export and continue to do our best by protecting our employment despite everything.
Of course, while dealing with current problems, we must not miss the big picture.
We must accurately observe where the world is going and position our place in the new world today.
The pandemic has prepared the infrastructure of this new order.
Those who have successfully survived the pandemic process will take a leading role in this new world.
At this point, Turkey is one of the advantageous countries.
With the pandemic, Europe has experienced the difficulties of working with a single supply center, albeit painfully. Due to the pandemic, there is a distancing in the world against China. Our country, which produces quality products at reasonable prices, is moving towards becoming a direct supplier rather than an indirect supplier with its proximity to Europe. However, the steps in the defense industry, domestic automotive, and the natural gas reserves discovered give hope for our future. I see this new world order, which will be established as a country that missed industrial revolutions, as an opportunity. Order is being re-established in the world and it offers the opportunity to start from scratch.
Of course, it is very important for us as a country to question ourselves and to be ready for a new positioning with the "new normals". Here we have to change the perceptions of value. We must invest more in scientists, health, education, technology and R&D. In particular, we should allocate more resources to digitalization and technology. We must realize high value-added productions with domestic and national technologies.
We must accelerate our efforts to get more shares from these markets, such as e-commerce and e-export, whose importance has increased much more with the pandemic.
Our companies should also prepare themselves for current conditions, adapt to new technologies, manage the process well and analyze the demands well.
I believe that our city of Gazi, which is the gateway of our country to the Middle East, will come to the fore with its production diversity and human resources in this process.
As Gaziantep Chamber of Industry, we also analyze change and lead the technological transformation and digitalization of our city with the projects we implement.
In this direction, we established one of the first 7 Model Factories in Turkey in Gaziantep within the scope of the Applied SME Competence and Transformation Center Project. We have provided vocational training to 8 thousand people at the GSO Vocational Training Center (GSO-MEM). At GSO Vocational Qualifications Certification and Consultancy Inc., we continue our studies to conduct examinations and certifications in dangerous business lines. As a first in Turkey, we launched the Gaziantep Women Entrepreneur Support Center (KAGİDEM) in order to bring our women into business life. We started the Gaziantep Medical Industry Products and Technologies Program (MESANTEP) with our stakeholders. We have established important ties with our Foundation Companies for the defense industry and signed the "Gaziantep Defense Industry Development Cooperation Protocol" between Saha Istanbul and our Chamber. We are working on the establishment of Gaziantep machinery, metal laboratory and heat treatment center.
Of course, there is health at the root of all this, and it is of great importance that we comply with the measures taken.
I sincerely believe that we will get through these difficult days in the near future, by showing great care to mask, distance, hygiene and 14 rules, and with the results of the vaccinations.
With these feelings, I would like to thank and express my gratitude to all our healthcare professionals who work hard day and night, revealing their own lives.
Gaziantep Chamber of Industry
Chairman of the Board