Bahçıvan Speaks at Board: "Our Industrialists are finding it Difficult to Achieve the Growth they Desire"
The main agenda at the August Ordinary Board Meeting of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ICI), held at Odakule and presided over by ICI Board Vice President İsmail Gülle, was "Global Disorder and the Importance and Impact of our Region and Turkey on Developments in the Middle East."
Speaking at the Board meeting, where Sabancı University Faculty Member and Istanbul Policies Center Director Prof. Dr. Fuat Keyman was in attendance as a guest, ICI President Erdal Bahçıvan talked of the steep decline in the value of the TL due to increasing political uncertainties, geopolitical developments and the fact that industrialists were having difficulty achieving the growth they desired due to the low level of consumer confidence. Bahçivan said, "The word has virtually lost its bearings. If the conflict between states continues as was reported in this year's report of the World Economic Forum, and if risks such as climate conditions and cyber-attacks become a reality, the reasoning behind cooperation in the global economy will be threatened."
Making the opening remarks at the August meeting of the ICI, Board Vice President İsmail Gülle said that Turkey as a nation was facing a great challenge at this time, adding words that expressed his grief over the fallen and offering his condolences to their families. Underlining the importance of peace and prosperity in society, Gülle went on to say, "We need to approach every kind of problem with common sense and soundness of mind. The failure to form a coalition government after the elections of June 7 has resulted in Turkey's taking a decision for a new election. We hope the coming elections will be beneficial for the nation. We are all in the same boat. We are in a period where we have to remove ourselves from looking out for our own interests." Calling attention to the unrest and turmoil in the Middle East, İsmail Gülle pointed to the fact that most of the nations in this region were in need of stability, continuing on to say:
"Crisis is a rapidly spreading circumstance in this period of globalization and it knows no boundaries. The economic fluctuations experienced in China have rapidly encompassed the world. The ones that are paying the highest price for this are unfortunately the developing countries. Turkey is a powerful country with a well-established culture. The political and economic experiences that it has lived through all through our country's history make us that much stronger. I have every belief that Turkey will overcome the difficulties it faces today."
Taking the floor at this time, ICI President Erdal Bahçıvan called attention in his talk to how the political uncertainty was having an adverse effect on the economy, preventing industrialists from achieving the growth they desire. Pointing out that the industrial manufacturing index exhibited substantial momentum in the first part of the year, signifying a positive signal in terms of growth, Bahçıvan continued by emphasizing that the sharp fall in the value of the TL, the geopolitical developments that upset stability and the lowest level of consumer confidence ever recorded were overshadowing the sustainability of industrial performance. Bahçıvan said the following:
"Our industrialists are having difficulty achieving the growth they desire. The low levels of exports and the decline in tourism income, particularly originating in Russia, however, have not stopped imports from exhibiting a rapid decrease and this has had a positive effect on the balance of payments. On the other hand, the weakness in direct investments and the melting down of reserves do not portray a healthy picture. The fact that local deposit owners are shifting their savings in large proportions to foreign currencies is a factor that must be taken to be a serious indication of the stagnation in the economy. Opinion leaders and decision-makers should read the situation well and arrive at the right decisions. It is producers like us—employers and employees alike—who carry the responsibility and the burden of production. It is because of this that the mind of the producer, the mind of the employee, the mind of whoever provides job opportunities now prefers to focus on solutions rather than on polemics and fruitless discussions.
Let no one have any doubt that we will overcome these difficulties
On the subject of the elections to be held on November 1, Bahçıvan said, "As always, we believe that the people with use their democratic experience and good judgment and make the right decision, participating in the election at the highest level." Noting that the acts of terror plaguing Turkey at this time had no benefit for the country, Bahçıvan continued: "The sound of guns is unfortunately drowning out the sound and the power of words. We are in a period where everyone has to do his duty without cringing from responsibility. Let's have faith in the power of our country and our people. Let no one have any doubt that we will overcome all of the difficulties today too, as in the past."
The reasoning behind global cooperation is under threat.
Bahçıvan continued to talk about the political and economic problems experienced on a global and regional scale, expressing his views by saying: "The world has virtually lost its bearings. The waves of migration that have moved from the Middle East and Africa to Europe, forcing the boundaries more and more every day are causing increasing fear and trepidation. On the other hand, the world has already hit a crisis wall that is drawing nearer and nearer, step-by-step. The lack of audits and controls in the world is by its nature causing certain risks that threaten world societies. The World Economic Forum's "Global Risks 2015 Report" cites probable risks as being global risks, war between states, extraordinary climate conditions, inadequacies in national governance, the decline of or crisis in a state, unemployment and cyber-attacks. Under the circumstances, if these risks come to life, this will threaten the reasoning behind global economic cooperation."
Speaking as a guest at the August Board meeting, Sabancı University Istanbul Policies Center Director Prof. Dr. Fuat Keymen said that the world was in turbulence. Keyman remarked that actors of the underground state were on the rise and that these were times of global security crises. Also saying that what was happening also revealed the existence of a crisis of civilizations, Prof. Dr. Fuat Keyman asserted that global climate changes, global poverty, global food and water shortages were all a part of this. Keyman stressed that conflicts in the future would not be based on a clash of identities but on a clash of resources.
Fuat Keyman went on to talk of the four regional challenges that were affecting Turkey: The expansion of ISIL, the "fallen state" status of Iraq and Syria, the proxy wars and vying for regional hegemony, the weakening of the hegemony of Western countries. Explaining the impact on Turkey of the chaos in Iraq and Syria, Keyman called attention to the fact that in both of these countries, the ruling forces were post-modern, terrorist, also exhibiting a governmental reflex. Explaining that Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia's involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen were a continuation of their proxy wars, Fuat Keyman emphasized that the Middle East would be the focus of a weakness in global security and that this would have a major effect on Turkey.
Stating that Turkey needed a powerful government in order to cope with these global issues, Istanbul Policies Center Director Fuat Keymen said that the chance to have a powerful government had been lost as a result of the June 7 elections but that after the snap elections, a strong government would have to be formed, whether it be as a coalition or as a single party rule. Adding that the process of reconciliation could continue with a strong central government, Keyman said that the success of this process would provide a huge opportunity for the regional economy and would also open the way to preventing conflicts in the region that Turkey is a part of.