Justice: Dutch investors’ only concern
Although it is the tension between Turkey and Germany that hits the headlines nowadays, the skies are not completely clear with the Netherlands, with whom Turkey had a serious crisis during the referendum campaign. Turkey had asked the Dutch ambassador, who was abroad on holiday, not to return to Turkey for a while. The Dutch ambassador has been away from the country ever since: now totaling five months. Although the issue is no longer the main topic of conversation as elections in the Netherlands and Turkey long since concluded, questions still arise among those doing business between the two countries. Ethem Emre, chairman of the Netherlands-Turkey Chamber of Commerce, told DUNYA Executive that although political developments have not greatly been reflected in the economy, the business industry remains seriously demoralized by the affair.
However, the numbers do not clearly reflect the scale of the problem onto the economy. Exports to the Netherlands only declined by 1.4% in the first eight months of the year and direct investment to Turkey by the Netherlands actually increased more than twice in the first half. However, the increase was largely due to Dutch company Vitol’s acquisition of Petrol Ofisi from the Austrian OMV. Tourism has been the clearest sector reflecting the crisis, with the number of Dutch tourists decreasing by 20% in the January-July period. Moreover, this decline came after a 26% fall in 2016.
‘A bus nessman also needs just ce’
Stating that Dutch businessmen have a serious prejudice against Turkey, Emre says: “In the Netherlands, the most recent issue in relation to Turkey is whether there is justice in Turkey. A businessman also needs justice. He will go to the Turkish courts if he has any problem in business. How can you make business in a country without justice?” He adds that he does not believe there is no justice in Turkey. “But the prejudices are in this direction. Europeans do not like to do business in a country where there is apprehension. The government assures foreign investors but how much it will be applied becomes a matter of debate. There are many alternatives to Turkey in terms of production and tourism,” he says.
‘Campa gns are neffect ve’
Numerous campaigns have been organized by public and various NGOs to improve Turkey’s global image and create a positive perception. Indeed, many are ongoing. But Emre says these attempts are far from being effective. Recalling the visits to the Netherlands at both government and business representative level following the failed coup attempt in 2016, he says: “None of these were effective. Unless it is applied to the base periodically, the high level visits do not make sense.” He also emphasizes that the benefits will deepen if the work in the region is done in a collective manner with the participation of the Turks living there. “Despite all of this, I believe the current tense environment will end in compromise. The EU needs Turkey as well.”