ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Plastic makers expect to match current 15-20 percent levels of annual output growth for the next six years to make Turkey one of Europe’s leading producers, the head of an industry association said yesterday. The sector – with combined revenues of $12 billion (-9 billion) last year – is led by petrochemicals company Petkim, which is due to be privatized with a 51 percent block sale this year. «Over the next six years with growth of between 15 and 20 percent, the Turkish plastics industry can expect to be among Europe’s biggest plastic producers – we aim to be in the top three,» Hayrullah Yelkenci, Turkish Plastics Industry Association (PAGDER) president, told Reuters. «If current growth factors continue we are looking to match the largest producers in Europe by 2013, almost equal to (output) levels seen in Germany,» he said. In terms of output Turkey currently ranks sixth in Europe, he said. The industry in Turkey, which is a net importer of oil used in plastic production, is heavily dependent on crude prices, which have come down from record highs of more than $78 per barrel last August. «The price of oil will be one of the most important factors in determining sectoral growth in the coming years,» Yelkenci said on the sidelines of a conference. Plastic consumption in Turkey – currently at 65 kilograms per person per year compared to a European average of 70 kilograms – is expected to increase as consumption of white goods, automotive parts, and other household goods increases in fast-growing EU candidate Turkey. Economic growth here is seen at 5 percent this year, after a rate of 6 percent last year. Domestic sales and exports – including direct exports and plastic used in other goods – were split evenly in 2006, each worth approximately $6 billion, Yelkenci said. The highly fragmented sector, made up of some 6,000 companies, expects to see some consolidation in the coming years, as partnerships with foreign companies increase. Ankara’s 51 percent stake in Petkim, whose total market value is $1.1 billion (-830 million), is expected to be sold after a June 15 deadline for bids. Net profit in the company rose to 58 million lira (-31.8 million) in 2006 from a loss of 99 million lira the year before.