ECONOMY

Turkish textiles, clothing exports to Greece thriving

Turkey has become, following a well-coordinated policy, Greece’s preferred exporter of ready-to-wear clothes and other textile products over the past few years, increasing its exports 10 times over since 1999, data provided yesterday by representatives of the Turkish-Greek Chamber of Commerce and Turkey’s External Trade division of the Ministry of Commerce show. At the same time, Greece has not succeeded in gaining much of a foothold in the Turkish market. In 2004, the last year for which complete data are available, Turkish exports of ready-to-wear clothing were valued at $93.24 million, while Greek exports to Turkey were worth just $7 million. Turkish exports of ready-to-wear clothing to Greece have grown from $25.30 million in 2001 to $41.88 million in 2002 and $61.64 million in 2003. Estimates for 2005 show exports increasing by over a third, to $125 million. Exports of other textile products to Greece amounted to $72.01 million in 2002, $99.98 million in 2003 and $127.85 million in 2004. By contrast, Greek exports of other textile products to Turkey amounted to an insignificant $193,000. Fashion show This data was presented on the occasion of the «Turkish Fashion Break Athens» exhibition and show, which ends today at the Divani Caravel hotel. The show presents products – menswear, womenswear and children’s clothing collections, nightwear, wedding dresses and evening gowns – by 26 Turkish exporting firms. No longer an exporter of cheap textile products – China has displaced it on this count – Turkey has also set its sights on becoming a producer of its own fashion lines instead of providing work for foreign labels. This export drive, begun in the late 1990s, is actively promoted by Turkey’s Commerce Ministry. Similar shows have taken place in the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark and the United States, showcasing the products of Turkey’s ready-to-wear clothing sector. From an insignificant base until the 1990s, Turkey has succeeded in becoming the world’s fourth-largest exporter of ready-to-wear clothing and 10th in exporting other textile products. Export of ready-to-wear clothing have grown from $8.95 billion in 2002 to $11.17 billion in 2003 and $12.64 billion in 2004. Exports of other textile products have risen from $3.20 billion in 2002 to $3.94 billion in 2003 and $4.95 billion in 2004. At the same time, the Greek textiles sector has been in a state of crisis, with production expected to decline 20 percent in 2005. Greek textile manufacturers also fear the effects of an imminent reduction in Turkey’s value-added tax (VAT) on textile products from 18 to 8 percent. Eleftherios Kourtalis, President of the Federation of Greek Textile Manufacturers (SEVK), yesterday called for the abolition of collective wage agreements in the textiles sector, the raising of the limit of mass layoffs and a cut in employers’ social security contributions.