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“Trade finance for ever” / 25-26 March 2014, Istanbul

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Expota’s 8th Turkey Trade & Export Finance Conference is again like a yearly gathering of Turkish trade financiers with almost 600 strong delegates audience. Again great time to meet, while our daily agenda dominated by the political debate and pre-election noise, I believe this is the best place to be, to take charge to prepare a better future for the next generations. So this is a place to seek answers to some important questions that will prevail for the years to come. Of course the next Monday will come, with some Monday Morning syndrome for some but the life and trade will continue… So all these trade financiers got to together to find solutions for at least to the following issues:

Feel good factor… Perception is reality, and Turkey benefited a lot from tailwinds in its economy fuelled by a “feel good factor”. But checking on some key parameters like foreign exchange rate and its CDS (cost of risk) it’s obvious that since our last gathering almost a year ago perception has changed… Good news is the fact that our trade financiers have already proven their resilience to such challenges, but the question now is “at what cost”?  And how to overcome this mood change before it becomes a damage to real dynamics of our economy?

Turkish trade deficit… In an export driven policy environment Turkish trade is still booming with a growing deficit. So the solution does not lie in fighting against imports, but the focus should be on how to increase the value added of our exports. The mid-income trap is obvious. Turkey cannot move forward on the relevant rankings without increasing the innovation and technology component of its economy, and its exports. So how to make it happen?

Compliance… This is maybe one of the most important risk factor in doing business going forward. Globally converging set of rules for business ethics and compliance impose on us lot of new constraints and require a higher vigilance.

New frontiers… So what’s the new frontiers for Turkish exporters. Subsaharan Africa, Far East, Central Europe, Russia, or new pockets within the greater MENA region? But than how to mitigate risks? What’s needed to support the Turkish exporters in these markets? What will be the role of their bankers?

Increasing interest rates environment… Yes, US tappering… Due to recent local political debate, we have almost forgotten the end of “easy money era”. So as the liquidity dries out, are our exporters ready for an environment where access to finance becomes more scarce?

And new currencies… When are going to be ready to trade in other currencies? Looking back we witness a devaluating Turkish Lira against various local currencies in Turkey’s major trading partners, like China and Russia… But what could be the impact of the latest correction since the beginning of this year in the cross exchange rates? How would it be feasible and beneficial to trade in local currency with such trading partners?

So I had the privilege to open the conference this morning with my speech highlighting all these issues and wished the Turkish trade finance market at large good luck, and all the best for the year to come…

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