Turkey is looking to Africa to bolster its $18.5 billion ready-to-wear textile exports industry, which took a hit after a Russian jet was shot down along the Syrian border on Nov. 24, according to a report in TodaysZaman.
Russia has banned trucks carrying Turkish-made products from entering the country.
The foreign trade volume between the Turkey and Russia reached $31.2 billion in 2014 – a 17.3 percent increase from the previous year, TurkishWeekly reported.
Textile imports to Russia, however, have been in decline for two years due to the falling ruble and the Ukraine crisis. “We were planning to boost the textile export in 2016, but the Russian jet crisis has spiked our plans,” said Hikmet Tanrıverdi, chairman of the İstanbul Ready-to-Wear and Apparel Exporters Association.
Turkish textile manufacturers are working to diversify their client base in the hopes of getting some relief from market-share losses in Russia.
Representatives from 50 Cameroon-based textile companies are expected to attend a three-day summit of the Apparel Exporters Association.
Cameroon is seen as the leading force in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, which includes Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, TodaysZaman reports.
“We identified (Africa) as a target market two years ago but are now poised to exert efforts in improving ties with African businesses in order to recover from the Russian turmoil,” Tanrıverdi said.
After growing 8 percent in 2014, Turkey’s ready-to-wear textile exports dropped by 10 percent in the first 10 months of 2015, mirroring overall Turkish exports, which declined 8 percent. Russia is a lucrative market for Turkey with $5 billion in exports annually.
Russian sanctions will put both Turkish and Russian economies at risk, Tanrıverdi said at a press conference, according to TurkishWeekly. Apart from textiles, the two countries have strong economic ties in energy, food, and tourism.
“We see Cameroon as a stepping stone to expand more into Africa,” Tanrıverdi said. “We already have trade relations with Nigeria…We are also planning to reach six more countries and a market of 35 million people via Cameroon. I hope we will double the ready-to-wear exports to Africa in three years.”
Following the downing of Russia’s SU-24 jet, Russia targeted Turkey with sanctions ranging from visa restrictions to food and textile import bans.
“Until the political situation between Turkey and Russia clears up, we have decided to set new strategies to direct the textile exports (originally destined for) Russia to the African market,” Tanrıverdi said.