Experts state that the foreign direct investments will increase in the event the stability continues and the political mist dissipates. Occupying the 29th place in the Confidence Index in 2004, Turkey rose to 13th place in 2005. While the FDI flow into Turkey was $1.8 billion in 2003, this figure increased to $20 billion in 2006. In the first quarter of 2007, the foreign capital flow reached the level of $10 billion. Apart from our industrially and commercially developed cities such as İstanbul, İzmir, Sakarya, Kocaeli and Mersin, the economies in the Anatolia provinces of Kayseri, Denizli, Konya and Çorum, which are all far from the coast, are also booming. The new rising stars of the Turkish economy seem to be emerging from Anatolia.
Rising star of Anatolia Kayseri 'Islamic Calvinist'
Kayseri is among the Anatolian cities with the most advanced economies in the region. In particular, the most prominent furniture companies of Turkey are based in Kayseri. The export level of Kayseri companies is estimated to have exceeded $500 million. Other than furniture, Kayseri exports textile products, carpet, steel pipe and kitchen wares. The Kayseri Chamber of Commerce Chairman Hasan Ali Kilci, however, complains about the heavy industry of Kayseri, which has not been developing as fast as other sectors.
Chairman of the Kayseri Chamber of Industry Mustafa Boydak, also the board chairman of the Boydak Holdings whose annual revenue is over $1.5 billion, also complains about the general unawareness as to the industrial potential of the city. "All sorts of heavy industrial products are manufactured in Kayseri. Thirty percent of the telecommunication wires are produced in Kayseri. So are 30 percent of the energy wires and aluminum conductors. These are all heavy industry and technology products. In addition, Kayseri is among the top five cities in the textile sector. We have also made a great headway in plastic chemistry. We are not doing badly in the food sector either. We produce everything in the sector of home electric devices. People think that nothing is produced in Kayseri but furniture," he said. Kayseri, also the hometown of Abdullah Gül, has become a city of great interest to native and foreign investors alike. Queen Beatrix of Holland and the EU's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn have visited the city. The Open Society Institute, founded by George Soros, and the Austria-based European Stability Institute (ESI) are two of the other institutions interested in Kayseri. In a Kayseri report drawn up by experts from the ESI, the city's economic performance and the Protestant work ethic were compared and Kayseri residents were described as "Islamic Calvinists."
Hasan Ali Kilci, the board chairman of the Kayseri Chamber of Commerce, stated that Kayseri was a city capable of keeping up its economic development while maintaining its conservative structure. "People of Kayseri love to work. You can see this even in the poems peculiar to the city. You can come across phrases like, 'A Kayseri inhabitant approaches God as he works,'" he said. Touching on the interest of foreigners in Kayseri, Taylan Ertan, the Ankara representative of the economy newspaper Dünya, noted that the interests in Kayseri was seasonal and that "Islamic Calvinism" could be the subject of an intellectual discussion. An economy writer for Zaman, Fikri Türel approaches this issue with equanimity like Taylan.
"The Calvinism here may not overlap with its western meanings. The definition made by Max Weber doesn't quite fit in here. People of Kayseri are conservative and successful in the business world. However, I don't know to what extent ethics get together with the business world."
In 2004, the foundations of 139 factories were laid down in the Kayseri Industrial Zone at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan. Later, the number of factories was increased to 250.
'Runner Up' award from Financial Times to Konya
Konya, another rising star in Anatolia with its increasingly growing economy and the level of sector diversity it has reached, has become Anatolia's production base with some 32,000 Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SME) that it has alongside big industrial enterprises. Ninety percent of firms in Konya realize their production in modern industrial zones. Board Chairman of the Konya Chamber of Industry Tahir Büyükhelvacıgil said: "The most distinctive quality of the industry in Konya is that it doesn't rely on certain product lines and has an eminently wide range of products. Over 80 products from machinery to chemistry to agricultural devices and equipment, and from the package industry to casting to shoes and the glass industry are manufactured in the city."
At a contest held every two years by the Foreign Direct Investment magazine published by the Financial Times, Konya had been chosen as the "Runner Up" city in the category of "the city with the Greatest Economic Potential."
Members of the Konya Chamber of Industry export their products to 106 countries; 30 percent of them to EU countries, 32 percent of them to Middle East countries, 12.3 percent to African countries, 8.7 percent to Turkic Republics, 5 percent to the United States, 4.4 percent to Far East countries, 4.2 percent to Russia, and 8.8 percent of them to other countries.
Rising cities looking to have share from FDI
Hasan Ali Kilci complains that the current flow of FDI into Kayseri is not at a desired level. "The current investments in Kayseri are not at a desired level for reasons such as we the lack of a harbor here and our distance from Europe," he said.
The Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUKSON) makes its name heard a lot more frequently than in the past through economy summits where it gathers Turkish and foreign investors. TUKSON Chairman Rıza Nur Meral says that the increasing number of firms that make quality production gave rise to the problem of marketing. "Turkey must at once find new export destinations apart from Europe. For example, African countries are very important for us; the chances are not limited to trade ties, we can also have nice opportunities in terms of production," he said.
Boydak noted that the FDI flow to Kayseri was gradually increasing. He believes that the volume of foreign investment would double and triple in the near future. "There are only four to five foreign investors I know of in the form of partnerships. When foreign investment enters a country, it starts investing in the economically most favorable places. As of today, the foreign investments in Turkey are most active in and around İstanbul. As you know, it is gradually spreading to property and banking sectors. I believe this to be a process. I also believe that the FDI flow into Kayseri will increase and this will bring us more prosperity and create more employment for our people," he noted. With an application put into practice for the first time in Turkey, the Directorate of the Kayseri Industrial Zone obliges the industrialists who purchase building sites in the zone to promise to begin production in two years.
Gaziantep is an important city in terms of textile and machinery. It realized a $2.5-billion-dollar export in 2006. It realizes 36 percent of its export to EU countries and 6 percent to the United States. Chairman of the Gaziantep Chamber of Industry Nejat Koçer remarked that 42 percent of export realized to western countries was the proof of their high quality and standards and the competition power they had. There are 849 exporting firms in Gaziantep, which has risen to notice in the recent years, particularly with its sales to China.
"Being a city that exports to China is important. The volume of export we realize to China is currently $10 million; it will be maybe $50 million tomorrow and $500 million in three to five years time. We have to trust ourselves."
Gaziantep, which has so far been placed in the limelight only with its export to the Middle East, is now rapidly opening up to western countries. In an attempt to consolidate Gaziantep's production quality with a project to turn the city into a "Trademark City," the chamber of industry will not be satisfied with this and will also launch new projects to attract more foreign investors to the city. Investing largely in education recently in order to develop its international trade culture, the chamber will build a technopark in partnership with Italian firms. Over 80 food production facilities, a university, banks, exhibition areas, a stock exchange, health facilities and residential areas will be built within the context of the 1-billion-euro project.