ICI Assembly Discusses Assembly Work Groups Planned to be Established

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Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ICI) March Ordinary Assembly Meeting was held on 23 May 2018 in Odakule with the main agenda of "Opinions and Suggestions for Optimizing Effectiveness of ICI Assembly Work Groups and Professional Committees Planned to be Established".

Erdal Bahçıvan, ICI Chairman of the Board of Directors made a speech during the meeting and underlined the significant damage caused by the financial instability in all economic balances and especially in inflation. "The independence and prestige of Central Bank is valuable.  Central Bank and the banking industry should attach the required attention to the protection of the strong financial structure." said Bahçıvan.

İSO Başkanı Erdal Bahçıvan
ICI Chairman Erdal Bahçıvan

C. Tanıl Küçük, who chaired ICI from 2001 to 2013 and named as the ICI Assembly Honorary Member, was invited to the stage by ICI Assembly President Zeynep Bodur Okyay and Chairman Erdal Bahçıvan to be awarded with a plaque.

ICI May ordinary Assembly meeting was opened by ICI Assembly President Zeynep Bodur Okyay. Okyay shared her opinions regarding the agenda with Assembly Members.

İSO Meclis Başkanı
Zeynep Bodur Okyay
ICI Assembly President
Zeynep Bodur Okyay

"As Turkey, we should not put a premium on hopelessness, we should ensure stabilization right after the elections, rebuild the trust and keep going with a strong performance. We all have the responsibility to contribute to this country, to our kids who are our future with all our cells. Thus, like all other organizations, we, as the representatives of the Chamber of Industry that we all take roles in and holds a significant part of the production capacity in Turkey, are responsible to do our best. Istanbul Chamber of Industry has always been a guide and a solution provider for the national economy and during the challenges that we face throughout its history. In our Chamber, there was always trust rather than pessimism, positive critics rather than destructive statements, and sounds of hope rather than chaos. Today, it is time to embrace our role as a guide and an eye-opener. Turkey will be an age old in 2023. If we want to turn this next century into a period that moon and crescent shine, we have to rapidly solve all our issues extending from education to justice and make a production economy that is ahead of its time dominant."

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Following the speech of Okyay, ICI Chairman Erdal Bahçıvan took the stage and addressed the assembly members regarding the main agenda item. Bahçıvan stated that the industrialists both in the world and Turkish economy are going through extremely dynamic days that closely concern them. Reminding that the time of excess liquidity and low interest is over since a new period is being opened in the global economy, Bahçıvan stated that the central banks of developed countries and especially FED tightened their money policies causing the interests to be under upward pressure and financing opportunities to be limited. Attracting attention to the fact that the rise of bond yields in USA caused the global capital to go back to the safe shores and thus support the strengthening in dollar, Bahçıvan recorded that the rise of petroleum prices to a value around 80 dollars increased monetary tightening pressure by increasing the inflation expectations.

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Naming global trade wars as another important source of uncertainty in the recent years, Bahçıvan stated that even though the trade between USA and China seemed to be suspended recently, this process will be shaped by the negotiations between the respective parties within the next period. Underlining that this new period pushes the entire world to be more cautious, Bahçıvan emphasized the need to be much more careful due to the risks carried specially by the developing countries. Bahçıvan reminded that these countries are under the pressure of exchange rate and interest due to the growth trend of dollar and the tightening in financial conditions, and that this state caused negative differentiation of economies with high fragility and uncertainty.

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Stating that Turkey is at the top of these countries differentiated negatively, Bahçıvan said that they are once again witnessing the great importance of financial stability for a sustainable, stable and quality growth at this point that we arrived today.

Bahçıvan continued:

"As ICI, we have always attached great importance to financial stability. This important point should never be dismissed: financial instability always leads to heavy destruction, great risks and damages in virtually all balances and mainly inflation. As the distrust in financial stability continues, as we stand as mere spectators, the tendency for exchange rates and interests to increase may reach worrying dimensions. And the most important source of concern is the possibility that the risk may go out of control. To prevent the current situation to create permanent damages, we believe that a proactive attitude will be the best attitude. In a period that global financial resources decrease, Turkey needs to be more careful than other countries in its discourse and practice. Such that, the importance attached to financial stability will be the main determining factor whoever comes to the power after the elections on June 24. And we, as Istanbul Chamber of Industry, had expressed the value of the independence and reputation of the Central Bank multiple times when and wherever appropriate. And today, we maintain the same mentality and attitude. On the other hand, the strong nature of our banking industry is an important anchor for our economy. Thus, we believe that the required attention should be shown for the protection of the strong financial structure of the banking sector as much as the Central Bank."

Reminding that we are going through challenging days, Bahçıvan said that they should never forget that Turkey has important advantages to be reckoned with such as a dynamic domestic market, a young population, a considerable geopolitical and military force. Stating that everyone from inside and outside should definitely consider the greatness of Turkey, Bahçıvan told that 450 billion dollar external debt is a result of the trust in the present and future of Turkey.

Bahçıvan stated that the growth rates in 2017 made everyone happy and they are hopeful for 2018, and mentioned the importance of returning to the production economy for the industrialists. Indicating the laws and reforms supporting industrialists in numerous industries, Bahçıvan said that even though they are happy and excited for all of these, they are unfortunately facing a delay while expecting new investments to support this emerging production economy. Bahçıvan expressed their belief that this delay can be compensated with policies focused on sustainability of growth after the elections.

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Stating that they can achieve their goals by working together, Bahçıvan continued: "We believe that it is very important for our Assembly and professional committees to be more effective. In this sense, we had identified 14 Assembly Work Groups and their operational procedures and principles approved by our Board." Bahçıvan listed these 14 Assembly Work Groups as follows:

FINANCING

We are aware that our industrialists face a constantly increasing financing need when they want to expand their operations and make new investments besides continuing their operations in the fierce competition environment.

The support that we provided to Breath Loan as Istanbul Chamber of Industry, ICI Credit Hotline and training and information meetings about every aspect of financing stand out as our efforts in this field.

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Moreover, we think that the next generation "Development Banking" is a tool that provides financing to the priority investment projects of the country and helps achieving a sustainable growth level. With this goal, we had established and presented to the public authorities a Development Bank model that accepts the project as the security and does not ask for any other assurance, has high capital and is governed just like a private sector bank by abstaining from civil servant mentality.

With the working model that will be introduced by the 'Financing' Assembly Work Group that will be established to support the sustainable growth of the industry by shaping our financing services to our members, we think that we will especially contribute to the solution of financing problems of SMEs that have a significant share in the national economy.

TAX POLICIES

One of the subjects that concern our industry closely and thus we planned to establish an assembly work group for is 'tax policies'. In the consultation meetings that are annually held with the Revenue Administration besides the Assembly Committees' Joint Meetings that Turkish Ministers of Finance had attended in the last term, we had raised various issues that closely concern our industrialists regarding VAT, Special Consumption Tax, Resource Utilization Support Fund, stamp duty, corporation and personal income taxes by emphasizing the importance of a fair, engaging and effective tax system.

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Besides these meetings, we had forwarded our opinions during the preparation phase of the comprehensively amended tax legislation and especially VAT in writing. Seeing the removal of Resource Utilization Support Fund and stamp duty, the tax reduction applied to the regular taxpayers at the end of these dialogs is a clear indication that the dialogs achieved their ultimate goal.

And in the 'Tax Policies' Assembly Work Group, we wish to engage in a in-depth discussion of the innovative and visionary ideas regarding tax policies besides industrial issues resulting from both the legislation and the practice with the contribution of our Assembly Members, and express these ideas of the work group in the dialogs continued with the bureaucrats of the finance world.

CUSTOMS & FOREIGN TRADE

We organize foreign trade information seminars to improve the international competitiveness of our members, and trainings about state incentives, logistics and supply chains, commercial intelligence channels, customs legislations, accreditation and payment methods, and solution of international disputes.

The problems faced by our members and the respective professional organizations of the industries that we represent regarding subjects such as foreign trade and customers are assessed by respective Professional Committees and steps are taken with the involvement of the authorized bodies for the solution of these problems.

We aim 'Customs&Foreign Trade' Assembly Work Group to enrich and improve our customs and foreign trade operations that closely concern our industry.

DOMESTIC TRADE & MARKET SURVEILLANCE AND INSPECTION

Another work group that we plan to establish is 'Domestic Trade and Market Surveillance and Inspection' Assembly Work Group. The subjects such as the regulations in the Turkish Trade Law, the issues faced in the payment mechanisms and especially checks, insurance mechanisms and competition law are few of the titles that this work group will address regarding domestic trade.

Another subject that this work group will focus on would be the market surveillance and inspection. One of the most important factors affecting the competitiveness of our industry is non-standard, unsafe and low quality products entering into Turkey. And the way to fight with these products is market surveillance and inspection. It is also very clear that the market surveillance and supervision is not effectively governed in Turkey since there are multiple organizations in charge. Our expectations from this work group are contribution to the establishment of an effective market surveillance and supervision model by cooperating with public organizations and bodies including provincial directorates of the respective ministries, identification of the industrial priorities in the inspections and preparation of a work schedule for this.  

R&D, DESIGN, PATENT, TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION

For Turkey to achieve its 2023 targets, we believe that R&D and innovation competitiveness of our companies should be improved for our industry to produce products with higher added value.

One of the steps that we took for this purpose in the recent years is the ICI Cocoon Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program that we launched with the vision of 'from entrepreneurship to industrialism'. Another important project in this respect is the 'ICI Industry - Technopark Joint Working Commission' established with the cooperation of Istanbul Chamber of Industry and Association of Turkish Technology Parks (TGBD).

With the ICI R&D Centers Consulting Project, we want to help our companies carry out their R&D center application processes effectively and benefit from the provided supports rapidly. With this, we offer consulting to the service of our members for them to enable industrialists to draw their R&D road maps. As Istanbul Chamber of Industry, we also included ICI Digital Transformation, Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 under this title. And with these, we aim to improve the innovativeness and competitiveness of our industrialist companies. To enable a digital transformation methodology to be applied in firms in order to create value in the national economy, we provide consultation service.

And we continue the establishment efforts of Istanbul Design Center that we are the founder and idea partner of together with Turkish Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology.

One of our main goals is to make Turkey a technology producer, not a technology consumer. We believe that the 'R&D, Design, Patent, Technology, Innovation' Assembly Work Group that will be established based on this mentality will generate ideas to increase production with high added value.

INCENTIVES

We all acknowledge that a structural transformation is required in industry to free Turkey from the 'middle income trap'. And we see investment incentive system as one of the most important means for this structural transformation. We had expressed our opinions regarding this subject at various different platforms until today. However, we had unfortunately declared different and common incentive elements one after another without conducting any benefit-cost analyses. And we should accept that these did not create the desired effect. The most important reason behind this is that the declared incentive elements are applied by very different organizations without any coordination.

We had appreciated the acceptance and practice of almost a 'tailor-made incentive system' that is unique to the respective investment with the recently announced new incentive model.

And we had thought that the 'Incentives' subject concerning the industry should be one of the priority subjects of our Assembly in the next term, and had established a work group for this. In this work group that we had established, we aim to ensure coordination in the incentive system, to take steps to activate the right incentive elements at the right time, to review the high-quality international incentive examples, to identify the problems in the current practice and present them to the respective public bodies along with their solutions, etc.

TRAINING

The incredible rate of change that the current business life is in also affects and changes the required knowledge, skills and attitudes. And for the labor force to gain these knowledge, skills and attitudes at the appropriate speed and depth, options other than formal training, in other words lifelong training paradigm increasingly gains importance.

In order to gain the business skill required by the 21st century and to raise sensitive, creative and innovative next generations, we believe that the projects developed by the public and private sectors and the non-governmental organizations should increase besides improving the quality of the traditional school training.

As Istanbul Chamber of Industry, we provide these required knowledge and skills to almost 6000 industry firm workers every year with the seminars and training programs that we offer. We also carry out projects in cooperation with Istanbul Provincial Directorate for National Education to solve the problems and to fulfill the needs regarding vocational and technical training besides these training improvement actions.

The main subjects that the 'Training' Assembly Work Group will focus on will be life-long learning, improving the quality of professional and technical training, and raising qualified labor force.

UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COOPERATION

As Istanbul Chamber of Industry, we also attach great importance to the concrete project of industry-university cooperation for maintaining and improving the competitiveness of the Turkish industry.

In this sense, we aim to establish effective, high-quality, realistic and result-oriented cooperative operations between Istanbul Chamber of Industry, universities and the industry.

Thus the Industry Platform founded with the participations of Boğaziçi University, Istanbul University, Istanbul Technical University, Marmara University and Sabancı University under the leadership of our Chamber aims to ensure cooperation-coalition between universities, technology transfer offices, industrial firms and all the other respective organizations and institutions.

And with the 'University-Industry Cooperation' Assembly Work Group that we plan to establish, we aim to develop a cooperation model where a win-win model is ensured with the leading universities of Istanbul. We believe that we will continue to be an effective interface between the academy and the industrial firms with this.

PROFESSIONAL LIFE

In today's cooperative world, the public sector, the employers and the employees are required to rapidly respond to the changing production needs in agreement as the main actors of the professional life.

In this, we had carried out joint projects with bodies such as the ministries regarding subjects such as employment and legislation, business cases, severance payment, tax and premium load, occupational health and safety, qualified employee and training. Employment Movement, Istanbul Model for School-Industry Cooperation, Occupational Training Movement, 'Supporting Grandmas' project that is carried out with the suggestion of Istanbul Chamber of Industry are among the important projects that our Chamber provided contribution to.

We especially care deeply about the ICI Mediation Center that we established to provide solutions to the problems of the professional life.

It is aimed for the 'Professional Life' Assembly Work Group to, reduce the burden on the employers, ensure the employment security of the employees, etc. by considering different needs.

ORGANIZED INDUSTRIAL ZONES

Today, the most important and the top priority subject for the Istanbul industry is the settlement of the industry.

In both the 'Istanbul Industry Strategy' report that we issued in the past as Istanbul Chamber of Industry and all the platforms including the meetings that we held with the ministries and municipalities, we had underlined that Istanbul cannot exist without its industry as the flagship of Turkey. In this sense, we aimed to build two next generation Organized Industrial Zones, one in the Anatolian side and the other in the European side.

The 'Organized Industrial Zone Development Specialization Board' that we established in 2013-2018 Assembly term with the participation of Assembly and Professional Committee Members took steps for this goal.

Moreover, we had gathered the 8 Organized Industrial Zones' boards and firms in Istanbul with the Turkish Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology and respective bureaucrats to discuss the issues and solution proposals.

However, no concrete steps are taken regarding the foundation of new organized industrial zones yet.

Thus, we decided to establish the 'Organized Industrial Zone' Assembly Work Group to achieve this goal in the new term of the Assembly. We expect this work group to work on solving the issues of available Organized Industrial Zones besides establishing new ones.

On the other hand, we attach importance to the subject of supporting the industrialists that want to or had to move to Istanbul in their decision. Thus, an incentive mechanism that will support these firms in costs of this move is among our expectations from this work group.

RELATIONS WITH MUNICIPALITIES

The local administrations that have a huge importance in developing a participant democratic culture impact the lives of people directly with their services.

Especially ensuring the adequacy of the infrastructure in the region that our production facilities are located, finding a contact in processes concerning permits and certificates, completing the respective processes without losing time and effort are very important for us, the industrialists.

The new established 'Relations with Municipalities' Assembly Work Group will take actions not just for solving spatial issues, but also for preferring local production in municipality investments and purchases including natural resources, waste water and infrastructure.

SMART CITY PRACTICES

In the near future, its seems like the concepts like smart transportation, smart environment and smart home will be part of our lives. Thus, making our Istanbul one of the exemplary smart cities of the world is our common passion. On this path, we should all work together to include technology into every aspect of life with a collaborative work culture and multi-disciplinary approach.

We think that smart city practices should not be seen only as an infrastructure or urban planning of local administrations. In fact, transformation to a smart city is a journey of creating a digital ecosystem that incorporates many processes extending from data sharing to logistics, smart management of power to basic issues like health, environment and safety.

Based on this perspective, we aim the 'Smart City Practices' Assembly Work Group to address multiple dimensions of the digitalizing technologies subjects from our industrial products to their areas of use. We are curious and excited about the road map and the action suggestions that will be presented by this work group that will introduce an important perspective to our Chamber about this subject.

FAMILY COMPANIES & INDUSTRIALIZATON

Family companies that generate almost 90 percent of the national revenue will continue to be the backbone of Turkish economy both due to their value for the economy and their social-political impacts in short and medium terms. In family companies, industrialization is very important for a sustainable growth and success.

Our Chamber will provide contribution to our industrialists that want to learn more about and move forward in industrialization with the Industrialization Mini-MBA training program that it will launch as of July.

We believe that the 'Family Companies & Industrialization' Assembly Work Group that will be established will raise awareness regarding the importance of industrialization and offer a road map for this.

INDUSTRIAL CONGRESS

Our Chamber that works for Turkey and Turkish Industry since 1952 that it was established organized Industrial Congress for the past 13 years. The 13th Industrial Congress that we held with the theme of 'People & Culture for Escape from Mediocrity' and the slogan of 'Let's Shape Future Together' welcomed more than 2200 satisfied participants. In our Industrial Congress held with innovative applications, we had closely cooperated with the Anatolian chambers of industry and trade.

In our congresses that welcomed more than 14,000 participants until today, a total of 524 elite speakers shared their ideas and experiences in workshops organized under 125 different themes.

The 'Industrial Congresses' Assembly Work Group that will be established will define the format and the agenda of the future congresses. We wish to continue this congress tradition with an interactive mentality and a groundbreaking structure.

Following ICI Chairman Bahçıvan, Assembly Members took the stage to share their ideas about the agenda.