President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday that Turkey will not import any readymade defense products, software or systems that can otherwise be produced locally, except at times of emergency.
Speaking at the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting, Erdoğan said that Turkey will spend more time and money if necessary, but will definitely develop its own products and systems.
Calling on international defense contractors to cooperate with Turkey, Erdoğan said: "We are ready to cooperate with international defense firms who want to work with us on our terms."
Turkey's defense industry is becoming stronger, Erdoğan said, adding: "In addition to state organizations, there are many private sector companies that work day and night so they can compete with the world leaders. Our engineers are achieving new successes every day. Many projects that until yesterday were thought to be unachievable have either been completed or are nearing completion."
Last month, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin region to secure its borders against terrorism threats emanating from the region and eliminate the risks posed by the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed Peoples' Protection Units (YPG). Since the first day of the operation on Jan. 20, Turkey has used to domestically developed military vehicles, arms and ammunition a significant extent.
Speaking at The Role of Public Procurement in Technological Transformation: Domestic and National Production Conference yesterday, Science, Industry and Technology Minister Faruk Özlü said: "Just the way we are fighting the enemy in Operation Olive Branch backed by local technologies, we will also triumph in industrial warfare with domestic products."
"The growth in our domestic defense industry will continue and we will also take some historic steps."
The program was organized by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey's (TOBB) conference hall.
Özlü said public procurement was an important policy instrument that has contributed to the country's innovation and research and development.
Explaining that domestic production as a strategic approach, Özlü said that they aim to focus on medium- and high-technology products.
"In order to achieve this goal, we must edit, plan and direct the power of public procurement in a way that contributes to the technological transformation of our industry," he said.
"Supporting the industry through public procurement is an important pillar of our development goals and programs. We see public recruitment as an important development instrument, whether you call it positive discrimination or domestic and national support."
Özlü said that closing the country's technology deficit will also help close the current account deficit, adding that they are concentrating on closing the technology deficit first.
He stressed that Turkey has covered significant ground in high-tech production and recalled that they brought a 15 percent price advantage in favor of domestic goods in public procurement with a Production Reform Package.
DOMESTIC PRODUCTION NOW STATE POLICY
The minister said that with the circular undersigned by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, a localization board was formed in order to raise the share of high-tech products in exports.
He said the board will undertake programs that will reduce the local industry's dependence on foreign technology and increase the country's competitive power. He said that Turkey has now adopted domestic and national production as a government, industrial and development policy.
Özlü also mentioned that they brought incentives to localize 43 products that have a $15 billion share in the country's import. He added that the government has identified five focus sectors that will double added value in 10 years - chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, semiconductor electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and beverages.
"We also included the information and software related to all these sectors within the incentive program," Özlü said.
"We will support the products in these sectors with tax relief, funding, incentives and exemptions. We will mobilize all our resources to promote local production."
Turkey has been heavily investing in the defense industry and has substantially increased the number of defense projects over the last 15 years while also increasing the rate of domestic production whereby local resources are used in the development of defense projects and equipment.
The number of defense projects, which was 66 in 2002, has now increased to 600, while the size of these defense projects has reached $60 billion.
External dependency, which was around 80 percent 16 years ago, has also rapidly declined with the nationalization of projects. The use of domestic resources has increased from 25 percent to more than 60 percent. Turkey's defense industry has around $6 billion productions and $2 billion export capacity.