In order to increase its competitiveness in foreign trade and ensure better integration of all transport networks into commercial operations, Turkey will establish logistic centers stretching along 294 kilometers of junction line, including organized industrial zones, ports and free trade zones.
At the launching ceremony of Turkey's Logistics Master Plan in Ankara on Wednesday, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank stressed that his ministry and the budget and strategy directorate of the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry carried out a joint survey to examine the possibilities of transport modes and their integration into the railways. "As part of the study, we have set the goal to establish logistic centers in the strategic organized industrial zones and free trade zones to further strengthen our industrial power," Varank remarked.
The new Logistics Master Plan, created with the coordination of the Trade Ministry, Industry and Technology Ministry and Transport and Infrastructure Ministry, primarily aims to increase the efficiency of logistics services, identification of alternative transport routes and establishment of new logistics hubs.
In his address, the industry and technology minister drew attention to the fact that the economic center of gravity is shifting toward the east from the west. He further highlighted that the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative is transforming the logistics infrastructure of the countries through which the massive initiative passes. Varank argued that the project therefore opens the gate to new markets, introducing new modes of doing business, and brings new dynamics into the economy. Turkey, he added, must play a leading role in the emerging markets by unleashing its existing superior qualities.
In reference to the outstanding development of Turkey's transport infrastructure, the minister maintained that the enhanced network has fortified the country's strategic location, boosting economic growth and employment by way of reviving trade and investments.
The minister also pointed out that the steps taken in transport and logistics directly impact Turkey's competitiveness. "It is of great significance to diversify the transport modes in industrial zones and logistic areas," he said, continuing: "We have prioritized meeting the logistic needs of our industrial zones as part of the 2023 Industry and Technology Strategy. We have collected the handling data in the industrial zones and the related markets and examined their logistic needs." As part of the study conducted by the Industry and Technology Ministry, the distance between the organized industrial zones and the conventional railways has also been mapped out.
LOCATION BIG ADVANTAGE FOR LOGISTICS
For her part, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan stated that a large portion of Turkey's foreign trade is carried out by sea while the country depends on road transport for regional deliveries. "It is important for our export targets to make this outlook more balanced with the breakthroughs in logistics, to increase the share of railway transportation in our foreign trade and to reduce domestic transportation costs," she added.
The minister continued that the weight and impact of the developments in the logistics sector on Turkey's foreign trade and development policies are increasing day by day. "The cost advantages of countries with strong logistic capabilities play a major role in present conditions in which protectionism is on the rise all over the world," she told.
Pointing to the importance of the development of the logistics industry and infrastructure in order for Turkey to achieve sustainable export growth and to boost the competitiveness of export products, Pekcan said that they consider the Logistics Master Plan a complementary part of the Export Master Plan announced in August.
Turkey's geographic location is a great advantage for the logistics sector, Pekcan remarked. "Turkey is among the top 20 countries with a turnover of about $18 billion in the transportation sector in the world. We expect these figures to reach much higher levels thanks to the big infrastructure investments made by our government and the ability of our companies to use the existing facilities effectively," she said. According to Pekcan, Turkey ranks 47th in the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index. "Our goal is to rise to top ranks together, as we deserve," she noted.
Indicating that the ministry has taken important steps in "customs and border management," the minister said that they have modernized the border gates and have developed new projects and made technological investments in order to enable customs to render services at the highest level.
Pekcan expressed that they have increased efficiency and ensured time and cost saving in logistical transactions through applications such as Pre-Arrival Customs Clearance, Digital Customs Project in Exports, Export Accompanying Document, Port Single Window and On-Site Customs Clearance.
She further noted that they aim to add new applications to these projects and make customs transactions more efficient in the future.
Pekcan pointed out that the share of rail transport in Turkey's foreign trade is as low as 1%. According to the minister, when it comes to foreign trade in regional terms, Turkey is heavily dependent on road transport in exports – which sometimes raises challenges for foreign trade. "It is important for our export targets to make this outlook more balanced with the breakthroughs in logistics, to increase the share of railway transportation in our foreign trade and to reduce domestic transportation costs," she said.