ICI Reveals Secrets to Create Added Value in the Economy: “OIZ and Production Sites should be Open to Ports via Railroad Networks”

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The Assembly of Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ICI) held its October meeting today under the main theme "The Importance of Transportation, Maritime and Communication Vision of Turkey for the Competitiveness and Future of our Economy and Industry." Erdal Bahçıvan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ICI gave the opening speech in the meeting in which Lütfi Elvan, Minister of Transportation, Maritime and Communication attended as guest speaker.

The October meeting of the Assembly of Istanbul Chamber of Industry was held in Odakule. Participant Lütfi Elvan, Minister of Transportation, Maritime and Communication stated that a strong transportation and communication infrastructure would both develop the economy and strengthen industry. In reference to this, he also added that the government realized major investments in transportation and communication announcing that they will privatize and liberalize railroads in 2015 and will initiate the İstanbul-Kapıkule express train project.

Lütfi ElvanChairman of the Board of Directors of ICI started his opening remarks with an evaluation of recent developments in the region which Turkey is a part of. ICI Chairman Erdal Bahçıvan stated that a human tragedy is laid before our eyes in the Middle East which is no different from a fireground. He called attention to the desire for social peace and living together crucial for everyone and added: "Multiculturalism and incomparable social richness have lived on in these lands throughout the history without losing anything of its diversity. We are so happy that our strong community cement helps us sustain unity and solidarity for a thousand years in spite of all efforts for provocation such as what we experienced recently. Particularly economic and other developments are possible only if peace and happiness are in place."

Production sites should have access to seas

Bahçıvan expressed his opinions on the main agenda item of the ICI Assembly and stated that in a world with a population of 7 billion and annual economic growth of 70 trillion dollars, transportation and communication become two major components of the economy. He underscored that important developments have been made in transportation in recent years with projects such as Marmaray, third bridge on the Bosphorus and North Marmara Highway and called for an urgent need to put in place legal and administrative regulations to develop a combined transportation system aimed for organized industrial zones and production sites.

Bahçıvan added in his remarks: "In order for our industry to sufficiently benefit from railways, branch lines should be established between mainlines and production sites. This will hence increase transported load and labor, connect export and production zones and lower the cost of transportation for the industrialists. The establishment of Istanbul-Trakya express train will be critical to the transportation of skilled labor in particular and for the regional industry in general.

Investments in transportation crucial for Istanbul's position as logistics base

Bahçıvan stated that they considered very important Ro-Ro expeditions with foreign connections, the expansion of our mercantile navy, investments in new ports and advancements in shipbuilding. He also added: Investments on new ports should continue while existing ports should increase in efficiency and capacity. We should correct infrastructural deficiencies in our ports and help assert themselves as brands on a global scale. Investments in transportation will strengthen Istanbul's regional and global impact as well as its goal towards becoming a logistics base." Bahçıvan also pointed out to the unresolved traffic problem of Istanbul: " It is necessary that more emphasis should be made towards solving this problem which negatively affects quality of life to a greater degree each day. One major problem in Istanbul's traffic is congestion at the highway tolls. A solution to this problem is the removal of tolls or their transfer to outside the city."

Erdal BahçıvanBahçıvan additionally stated that relieving foreign dependency in transportation and increasing domestic input contribution are of utmost importance for the economy and industry. His remarks on the issue were as follows: "The cost of metro-tramway cars only in the following 15 years will amount to a approximately 20 billion dollars. This and export opportunities if evaluated will create a substantial potential in this area. Selecting domestically manufactured products for the tenders of rapidly expanding rail transportation projects primarily in Istanbul and in many cities nationwide will significantly contribute to the development of our industry."

Stability in budget performance and banking sector brings joy

Bahçıvan stated his opinions on the economy of the country and underlined the necessity to solve issues of unemployment, inflation and current deficit whereas the stability of budget performance and banking sector indicators were joyful news. "The decrease in oil prices is joyful news for countries like us with no oil production. This fall not only reflects positively on our total energy bills but also comes as a relief in the transportation and logistics sectors with high fuel use. The overall picture shows a slowdown in growth with a current deficit on the rise. This in turn manifestly reveals the need for the Turkish economy, which has decade of bright growth performance aided by favorable foreign conditions, to create a new growth story in order to stand upright in dynamism and resistance within a rapidly changing global scene."

Bahçıvan also stated that the creation of the new story depended on focusing on productivity and technology as well as a rapid implementation of structural reforms. His remarks were as follows: "Elections will be held soon. It is difficult to focus on these reforms in such context. The recently announced 2015-2017 Medium Term Program becomes all the more important at this juncture. We consider it very important to immediately realize the action plans, as stated in the program, which overlap with most of the expectations of the business world and which are prepared as part of priority transformation programs."

ICI Chairman of the Board of Directors, Erdal Bahçıvan's Speech Text Attach