Turk contracts on rise abroad

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey expects its contractors to win foreign projects worth at least $17 billion in 2007, Turkish Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen said yesterday. Turkish contractors carry out many projects in a wide region, extending from Russia to Saudi Arabia, and their revenues are an important source of foreign exchange for Turkey. «The total value of projects undertaken by Turkish contractors abroad reached $15.9 billion in 2006. We expect this to exceed $17 billion at the end of 2007,» Tuzmen told a conference. He also called for «a new strategic policy which envisages realistic exchange rates» as the lira currency hit a fresh six-year high against the dollar. Turkish industrialists have long criticized the central bank for high interest rates, which they blame for the strong lira.