Strong re­gional im­age brings Turk­ish con­trac­tors in­vi­ta­tions from Canada, In­done­sia

Turkey is be­com­ing a more ef­fec­tive player in the world’s de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing mar­kets with increasing achieve­ments in foreign con­tract­ing, TMB Chair­man Mithat Yenigün says

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Money - HÜLYA GÜLER

TURK­ISH con­tract­ing com­pa­nies, which have gained an im­por­tant place in the foreign con­tract­ing mar­ket with more than 10,000 projects since 1972, have begun to re­ceive in­vi­ta­tions to do work in de­vel­oped mar­kets in Europe and the Amer­i­cas.

“Our im­age in our re­gion is pretty good. The work we fin­ish by un­der­stand­ing and show­ing flex­i­bil­ity and the qual­ity of our work opens new doors for us. For us, they say, ‘They do busi­ness at the Euro­pean stan­dards at the price of China.’ This per­cep­tion is ex­tremely use­ful to us,” Mithat Yenigün, chair­man of the Turk­ish Con­trac­tors Union (TMB), told Turk­ish Sabah daily in an in­ter­view.

A del­e­ga­tion from Canada’s con­struc­tion work­ers union re­cently ar­rived in Turkey to dis­cuss co­op­er­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties with their Turk­ish coun­ter­parts, Yenigün noted.

“A del­e­ga­tion from us also went to Canada and made ex­am­i­na­tions. They want to do these ren­o­va­tion projects with us. They asked us to do it to­gether. When they vis­ited us, they even said that they would grant us the right to im­mi­grate 40,000 work­ers. A sim­i­lar of­fer came from In­done­sia,” he said.

“We are a se­ri­ous brand in our re­gion. While op­er­at­ing as an ac­tive player here, we have set our eyes on de­vel­oped mar­kets, and now we have reached the ma­tu­rity to eval­u­ate the op­por­tu­ni­ties there.”

He said Turk­ish com­pa­nies are seek­ing projects in de­vel­oped mar­kets in Europe and the Amer­i­cas, not­ing that some con­trac­tors have al­ready un­der­taken works in the West.

“These projects are cur­rently un­der­way. We also have com­pa­nies that do hous­ing projects in the U.K. There is also a great need for in­fra­struc­ture re­newal both in Europe and in the United States. The U.S. will have $1.3 tril­lion in in­fra­struc­ture re­newal busi­ness volume over the next 10 years. Of course, we want to get our share of it. Canada is also a mar­ket on our radar. There is also an op­por­tu­nity for $350 bil­lion of in­fra­struc­ture ren­o­va­tion over the next 10 years, and there have been good de­vel­op­ments in this re­gard,” Yenigün added.

$35B PO­TEN­TIAL IN IN­DONE­SIA

In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo an­nounced last year a megapro­ject to move the na­tion’s cap­i­tal from Jakarta to the prov­ince of East Kal­i­man­tan. The move is not only due to the coun­try’s search for a new city to re­place the con­gested metropo­lis but also be­cause its cur­rent cap­i­tal con­tin­ues to sink more

ev­ery year, ac­cel­er­at­ing the coun­try’s race against ris­ing sea lev­els. Con­struc­tion and in­fra­struc­ture ef­forts are set to be­gin for the new cap­i­tal in 2021.

Within the scope of the project, Yenigün pointed to the po­ten­tial of some $35 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture busi­ness volume. “Re­cently, a we­bi­nar was or­ga­nized with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the In­done­sian min­is­ter of pub­lic works and our Trade Min­is­ter Ruh­sar Pek­can. There, the In­done­sian side in­vited us to their coun­try to carry out these in­fra­struc­ture projects. This and many sim­i­lar de­vel­op­ments are hap­pen­ing,” he said.

Turk­ish con­trac­tors have a long his­tory and weighty pres­ence in the Mid­dle East, Africa and par­tic­u­larly in Cen­tral Asian coun­tries such as Rus­sia, Turk­menistan and Kaza­khstan. They have also over­come eco­nom­i­cally dis­tressed pe­ri­ods by adopt­ing and show­ing flex­i­bil­ity in var­i­ous mar­kets.

“Our pres­i­dent vis­its coun­tries in the re­gion and touts us very nicely. All of this, of course, gives us a great ad­van­tage in terms of new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Yenigün noted. “But we are at a time when trade re­la­tions are highly in­flu­enced by po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments, and Turkey is very ac­tive, es­pe­cially in its re­gion. For ex­am­ple, we ex­pect our ac­tive pol­icy in Libya to cre­ate new job op­por­tu­ni­ties for us. In some coun­tries, our works have de­creased com­pared to the past. Saudi Ara­bia, for ex­am­ple. But in terms of qual­ity and com­ple­tion of work, Turkey is in­evitably the most pre­ferred coun­try in the re­gion.”

Turk­ish con­trac­tors have no com­peti­tors ex­cept China if the fi­nanc­ing fac­tor is ex­cluded, the TMB chair­man said. “But we also see Bri­tish, French and Ital­ian com­pa­nies in projects where the con­trac­tor it­self has to pro­vide fi­nanc­ing.”

He fur­ther noted the Chi­nese com­pa­nies’ pres­ence in Africa, not­ing that Turk­ish com­pa­nies have of­ten been called on by many of the con­ti­nent’s lead­ers.

“Even some fi­nanc­ing-strong na­tions want to en­ter Africa and other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries with us by mak­ing co­op­er­a­tion of­fers,” Yenigün noted. For in­stance, he men­tioned Ja­pan, which he said seeks to co­op­er­ate with Turk­ish con­trac­tors in Africa.

“Last year, we signed a co­op­er­a­tion pro­to­col for the sub-Sa­ha­ran African mar­ket with the Ja­pan Con­trac­tors As­so­ci­a­tion. To­gether with Ja­panese com­pa­nies, we are eval­u­at­ing busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in Africa. They bring fi­nance and tech­nol­ogy, and us­ing our en­trepreneur­ship and knowl­edge in the field, we will do busi­ness to­gether. In ad­di­tion, we also re­ceive co­op­er­a­tion of­fers from the Bri­tish,” Yenigün ex­plained.

Since the day they opened abroad in Libya in 1972, Turk­ish con­trac­tors have un­der­taken over 10,000 projects, worth more than $400 bil­lion, in some 127 coun­tries so far. The na­tion is se­cond only to China in the num­ber of com­pa­nies on the Top 250 Global Con­trac­tors List for 2020, pre­pared by the En­gi­neer­ing News Record (ENR), an in­ter­na­tional con­struc­tion in­dus­try magazine.

Forty-four Turk­ish con­trac­tor firms en­tered the list, which ranks com­pa­nies based on con­tract­ing rev­enue from projects out­side their home coun­tries. Turkey has main­tained its per­for­mance and ranked se­cond since 2017.

$50B TAR­GET IN NEXT 10 YEARS

As of Au­gust this year, the num­ber of con­trac­tors’ over­seas projects had reached 10,500, Yenigün noted, adding that the com­pa­nies gained $409 bil­lion in turnover. Of this, 20% came from Rus­sia, fol­lowed by Turk­menistan and Kaza­khstan.

Hav­ing reached $19 bil­lion worth of projects in 2019, the con­trac­tors had wanted to hit $20 bil­lion this year, but the coro­n­avirus pan­demic dis­rupted their tar­get, said Yenigün.

“As of the end of Au­gust this year, we have made a turnover of $8 bil­lion. We’ll have $14 bil­lion by the end of the year. It’s hard to pre­dict the year ahead. If the pan­demic doesn’t go in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, we’ve set a tar­get of $20 bil­lion again,” the TMB chair­man noted.

He fur­ther stressed a tar­get of $50 bil­lion within 10 years. “We, as Turkey, cur­rently re­ceive a 4.5%-5% share of the global mar­ket. If the mar­ket does not come to a much dif­fer­ent point be­cause of the pan­demic, there is now an an­nual over­seas con­tract­ing busi­ness volume of be­tween $500 bil­lion and $550 bil­lion. We

an­tic­i­pate that in 10 years, this will rise to $750 bil­lion. Why? Be­cause ur­ban­iza­tion is increasing, in­fra­struc­ture ren­o­va­tion needs are increasing. There­fore, we aim to in­crease our mar­ket share to 7% and achieve an an­nual busi­ness volume of $50 bil­lion.”

On the other hand, Turkey and Libya in mid-Au­gust signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MoU) to boost trade and eco­nomic ties. The deal is said to lay the ground­work for re­solv­ing on­go­ing is­sues be­tween Turk­ish firms and Libyan em­ploy­ers, open­ing paths to new in­vest­ments and new projects.

Yenigün said the agree­ment was a doc­u­ment in the form of a guide, defin­ing the path to be fol­lowed in cases of dis­pute.

“With the en­try into force of this doc­u­ment, which was also signed by the Cabi­net of Min­is­ters of the Libyan Gov­ern­ment, our cred­i­tor firms will sit at the ta­ble with the in­sti­tu­tions they are deal­ing with one by one. They will dis­cuss how pay­ments will be made and how the busi­ness will run from now on. I think we’ll get some good news on these is­sues in the com­ing days. As Turkey, our re­ceiv­ables abroad are not at a level that will cre­ate se­ri­ous prob­lems. We run our busi­ness with flex­i­bil­ity. There is no mag­ni­tude that we can ex­press as a prob­lem in this re­gard,” he noted.

Turk­ish con­trac­tors have been op­er­at­ing in the North African na­tion for many years; how­ever, there were some con­struc­tion projects that were in­ter­rupted re­cently due to con­flicts in the coun­try.

On the other hand, the TMB chair­man also pointed to new tech op­por­tu­ni­ties, not­ing that they are work­ing with the In­dus­try and Tech­nol­ogy Ministry on a new project to use ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in con­struc­tion.

“There are ex­am­ples in the world, and we, as Turk­ish con­trac­tors, want to de­velop 24-hour ‘robot’ con­struc­tion work­ers. These robot work­ers, de­vel­oped by us, are do­ing the rough con­struc­tion work. Then our do­mes­tic work­ers, who pro­duce qual­ity la­bor, will do the trim works,” Yenigün noted.

Among other part­ners in the project are the Trade Ministry and the Foreign Eco­nomic Re­la­tions Board (DEİK).

Turk­ish con­trac­tors have un­der­taken over 10,000 projects, worth more than $400 bil­lion, in some 127 coun­tries so far.

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