Turkey's potential

Published 17.06.2016 00:51

Turkey's unemployment data for March and budget realizations for May, which were announced on Wednesday, indicate that the Turkish economy has gained significant leverage and has a unique potential despite all negative external conditions. The strong decline in unemployment, particularly in non-agricultural unemployment, and the rise in tax revenues in the budget compared to last year is important. However, Turkey inevitably needs a new roadmap to further improve and maintain this economic picture. This data reveals that the Turkish economy is on the brink of a significant opportunity that it needs to seize.

Developed countries are preparing for Industry 4.0 in order to overcome the current crisis as they will face great competition from developing countries, particularly China and South Korea. As part of China's "Made in China 2025" program, the Chinese State Council paved the way for competition and market functionality and the state, universities and investors have produced thousands of patents that have commercial viability.

South Korea is a country that believes Industry 4.0 will be raised through small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Like China, the South Korean state has launched a Production 3.0 program that has concrete objectives. If it can achieve the objectives smoothly, a total of 10,000 South Korean SMEs will have smart and world-class production bands with high technology in 2020. This is a new development path where the state paves the way for the market.

We are not seeing a strong rise like that of Asia-Pacific in the West. Even the U.S. economy is yet to elude the risk of recession and Europe is a hopeless case in the strictest sense of the word. European governments, with Germany taking the lead, are spending billions of euros on Industry 4.0, however, their efforts will run into the ground unless they are integrated with qualified labor productivity. The European economy is very far from producing a young and qualified labor force that can work for low wages to be able to compete with Asia. On the contrary, Europe's young population is fading away and becoming more unqualified than that of Asia.

We are witnessing street clashes simultaneously with the UEFA European Championship in France. Indeed, these clashes emerge as a result of resistance to the state's operation to save traditional sectors where profit rates continuously decline. France's new labor act aims for a reactionary restoration in order to boost labor productivity and profitability in moribund traditional sectors that cannot compete with Asian countries.

In the past, Europe could ensure growth and escape crises first by exploiting domestic markets and then colonizing its hinterlands starting from its near surroundings. Europe can no longer grow by protecting its companies and products with high customs walls, limitlessly seizing raw materials and importing pauper labor from underdeveloped countries.

Look at the French national team and you'll see that it is almost entirely composed of migrant footballers of African origin. The parents of these football players built the current France under inhumane conditions. Now, Europe does not have this cheap labor and a chance to compete with Asia as before, as Asia has kept up with Europe. Under these conditions, Europe does not want the neighboring Turkey to integrate with Asia. Even the pro-European Conservative Party in the U.K., which is preparing for withdrawal from the run-down EU, is making propaganda, saying, "Do not worry, Turkey cannot enter the EU."

What should Turkey do under these circumstances? Turkey has completed its traditional industrialization that is based on the domestic market. Now, it must aim for a new development and growth path that eyes to be a technology and finance base in the region and dominates economic hinterlands beyond its borders. Turkey can ensure regional domination, which the West achieved through impoverishment, with an all-embracing enrichment path.

Following World War II, Japan grew by exporting goods and technology to neighboring Pacific countries and set a unique development path. Today, Japan's understanding of development, which is based on mutual winning, has a large part in Asia's development.

Having a strong population, market and industry, Turkey might choose a similar path for Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Africa in the near future. Therefore, the resolution of problems with Russia, Saudi Arabia and the Palestine question, starting with the blockade of Gaza, as well as the improvement of Turkish-Israeli relations, are crucial for far-reaching regional development in the upcoming period. This is more important for Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel than for Turkey. These countries will either choose stability and development, or crisis and wars that are transferred to them.

To the extent that Turkey has gone beyond traditional, outdated and colonialist economic understanding, it has made Istanbul the center of the most important infrastructure projects in the world although the global crisis persists. This is an important experience.

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