The Turkish government is putting the squeeze on its defense and aerospace industries to boost exports as part of an aggressive strategy aimed at countering the country’s account deficit and devaluing lira.
At the annual ambassadors’ conference in August, Erdogan urged Turkey’s diplomats in more than 150 countries to work harder and get contracts for Turkish industries. He has also since repeatedly ordered procurement and industry officials to find new markets to target.
“Exports are increasingly important for the sustainability of the [local] industry,” said Murat Ceran, head of the International Cooperation Department at the Presidency of Defence Industries, the government’s procurement agency.
“Globally speaking, there are three main tiers of exporters: The United States and Russia together account for nearly 60 percent of all exports. The second group consists of exporters like China, France, Germany and the U.K. Turkey, along with Italy, Spain South Korea and Israel, make the third group,” Ceran explained.
In recent years, Turkey’s defense and aerospace industries reported an average export increase of 8 to 10 percent annually. Only in the past six years, Ceran said, have defense and aerospace exports risen by 61 percent, while Turkey’s overall exports rose by 10.5 percent.
Turkey’s defense and aerospace exports have risen from an annual $1.388 billion in 2013 to $2.035 billion in 2018, according to the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly. In comparison, total sales (both foreign and domestic) grew from $5.076 billion in 2013 to $6.693 billion in 2017, the last year figures are available for.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s total defense spending rose from $14.34 billion in 2009 to $19.58 billion in 2017, according to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the country’s legislative body. In the same period, however, the share of defense spending to overall government spending largely remained stable, with a slight drop from 6.6 percent in 2009 to 6.4 percent in 2017.
Apart from the uS, other top markets are Germany with $226 million; Oman with $153 million; Qatar with $83 million; and the Netherlands with $75 million. India, Azerbaijan, the U.K., Poland, and France are also included in the top 10 export markets.