Financial markets react with relief to new Turkish cabinet

ŞEYMA ERAZ @seymaeraz
ISTANBUL
Published
Mehmet Şimşek
Mehmet Şimşek

The names in the new Cabinet satisfied market expectations. Along with Mehmet Şimşek as deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, experienced figures in economy-related ministries consolidated the markets' trust in the government

Binali Yıldırım, the incoming prime minister and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader, formally announced his Cabinet yesterday, which is composed of the 65th government of the Republic of Turkey. Markets were eager to learn the names that will be in charge of economy-related ministries to understand the next term's economic policies. With a few changes, the new Cabinet is being evaluated as a guarantee to ensure economic stability. The key concern was who will be the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy. To the relief of markets, Mehmet Şimşek kept his position as deputy prime minister, who has instilled confidence in the markets during his terms thanks to his reputation as a cautious operator.

Şimşek has been an AK Party deputy for nine years. The 49-year-old deputy prime minister served as a state minister responsible for the economy for two years, which has since been renamed the Economy Ministry, and served as finance minister between 2009 and 2015. To supplement a bachelor's degree in economics from Ankara University's Faculty of Political Science, Şimşek has work experience in international investment banks like UBS and Merrill Lynch.

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci returned to his position after a six month break. He served as the economy minister between 2013 and 2015, when after he was out of the Cabinet for six months while keeping his seat in Parliament as an AK Party deputy. The 55-years-old minister who has a degree in economics was welcomed again by the business community thanks to his reputation as being understanding and for his experience in the real sector as a businessman.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, who was elected as an Istanbul deputy from the AK Party in the June 7 elections in 2015, was re-elected as a deputy on Nov. 1 of last year, as well. He was appointed as the energy minister in November and will maintain his position in the 65th government. The energy minister has held high-level positions at numerous national and international companies. Albayrak is also a board member of Turkuvaz Media Group, the parent company of Daily Sabah, and he lectures in the fields of banking and finance at Marmara University. After studying finance at New York's Pace University, Albayrak became the CEO of Çalık Holding, where he gained more experience in the energy sector. Albayrak also holds a Ph.D. in finance and banking, and he focused his doctoral studies on financing renewable energy resources. He is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Albayrak has initiated energy projects focusing on more local sources. As a resource-poor country, Turkey has had to import natural gas and oil from different countries for years, which creates a huge deficit in the country's foreign trade. Focusing on transforming 70 percent of Turkey's energy demand more on the use of local energy resources, the 2016 Budget of the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry indicates that the country is capable of reaching maximum levels of coal production, potentially saving $7.2 billion in natural gas imports.

Last week, Yıldırım could not attend the International Transport Forum held in Leipzig, Germany, which he attended several times during his tenure as the transportation, maritime affairs and communications minister. Instead, his colleague announced his nomination as the new AK Party leader simultaneously with the announcement in Turkey. Pat Cox, the moderator of the ministerial session attended by many transport ministers from different countries, congratulated Yıldırım and imparted a message for the others in the session, saying the Transport Ministry would be a good path to the Prime Ministry.

Yıldırım's close colleague Ahmet Arslan was appointed as the new transport minister. Born in 1962, Arslan graduated from Istanbul Technical University like Yıldırım. He studied shipbuilding and mechanical engineering. Arslan is also expected to be a follower of Turkey's ambitious infrastructure projects.

Yıldırım has been known as a "man of action" and a "workaholic." As a politician, he has developed a reputation as someone who prefers to talk about projects rather than politics. Yıldırım noted yesterday that with Arslan taking over his position, Arslan is not getting any favors but is expected to serve.

Finance Minister Naci Ağbal, 48, maintained his position that he has been serving for the last six months. He served as the Finance Ministry undersecretary between 2009 and 2015. He has served in the ministry since 1989 until he resigned to run on the AK Party ticket during the June 7 elections in 2015. Ağbal was also the AK Party's deputy chairman in charge of the economy since Sept. 13, 2015.

A new public figure, Faruk Özlü, was appointed as the new science, industry and technology minister. The 54-year-old, mechanical engineer has served in the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries in different positions for years. He was also a contributor to the defense industry's crucial projects like Turkey's first locally designed tank (ALTAY), the first local unmanned aerial vehicle (ANKA), the national naval vessel (MİLGEM).

Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi has kept his position as well, to which he was appointed six months ago. The 50-year-old minister graduated from Ankara University's Department of Law. He also holds a master's degree on trade law.

Lütfi Elvan, 54, has been appointed as the new development minister. Elvan's new position was also a key concern since he is a very close friend of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. After serving as the transportation, maritime affairs and communications minister for one-and-a-half years, Elvan was appointed as deputy prime minister in Davutoğlu's Cabinet.

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