By HUSNIYE GUNGOR
Although diplomatic and economic ties date back several centuries, Austria has had a dedicated commercial office in Istanbul for just 70 years. Therefore, ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Turkiye organized a reception to mark this important milestone on December 8 at the palace in Yenikoy, where the Austrian Consul General is based. More than 150 Austrian-Turkish cooperation partners attended the event, at which winners of the National Energy Globe Award Turkey 2022 were also announced.
Evaluating bilateral trade relations in an exclusive interview with TR MONITOR before the event, Gerhard Lackner, Austrian Trade Commissioner for Turkiye, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, said that bilateral trade between Austria and Turkey has grown since the establishment of the Austrian commercial office in Istanbul in 1952.
“Our trade volume has grown more than four times, from EUR 830m to EUR 3.732bn, in the last 15 years. Last year, Austria’s imports from Turkiye grew by 27%, exports to Turkiye by 19 %, and this trend is continuing in 2022,” he said, adding that Turkiye ranks among the 20 most important trading partners for Austria.
As the official Austrian Trade Development Organization under the Austrian Federal Chamber of Economics, ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA is the largest service provider for foreign trade. Consisting of more than 100 offices in 70 countries, ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA offers Austrian companies’ services worldwide. ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Turkiye, with a head office in Istanbul and a second office in Ankara – established in 1969 – is a gateway for companies in both countries to find first-class partners, according to Lackner. “It is a central hub that plays a strategic role for companies wishing to do business with Austria,” he said.
As one of the most hard-working foreign trade representatives in the country, ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Turkiye organizes more than 60 events in Turkey and Austria every year to further expand bilateral economic relations. They also provide practical information and market trends for Austrian companies interested in Turkey as well as advice on questions relating to foreign business.
AUSTRIANS HAVE EUR 651M INVESTMENT IN TURKEY
There are more than 250 Austrian subsidiaries with investments of approximately EUR 651m and nearly 23,000 employees in Turkey, said Lackner. “In 2021…exports of goods from Austria to Turkiye increased by 19.02%, reaching a record figure of EUR 1.5bn,” he added. Austrian imports from Turkiye rose by 27.10% from EUR 1.76bn in 2020 to EUR 2.24bn in 2021. With this, the trade balance deficit of EUR 746m was reduced, he noted.
The primary imported goods group, tractors and motor land vehicles (EUR 288.3m), decreased by 6.1% in 2021, according to information supplied by ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Turkey. Other key products that Austria imports from Turkey, including clothing, accessories, knitting, and crocheting, totaled EUR 195.9m in 2021 with a 3.5% decrease. Nuclear reactors, boilers, and machinery imports were EUR 152.6m in 2021 with a 10.4% decrease. The imports of edible fruit, citrus, and melons, on the other hand, increased by 43.1% to EUR 142.2m and knitted or non-knitted clothing and accessories by 9.2% to EUR 134.3m in 2021. Preparations for vegetables, fruits, and other herbs reached EUR 80.8m, a significant increase of 41.4%.
Though service exports from Austria had grown by a remarkable 74.7% in 2020, a decline of 44.7% was seen in 2021, from EUR 595m to EUR 329m. Imports of services from Turkey increased by 50.9% in 2021 from EUR 277m to EUR 418m, following a 17.5% decline in 2020.
SOME FDI DECISIONS PENDING DUE TO ELECTIONS
The increasing bilateral trade volume confirms the excellent trade relations between these two countries, according to Austrian Trade Commissioner Lackner. However, some decisions are on hold until the election to that will be held next year, he warned, while evaluating the current outlook of foreign direct investment (FDI) from Austria to Turkey. “There is no way around Turkey in the medium and long term,” he said, adding that now is the time for Austrian companies to take a closer look at the market so that they can make informed decisions.
The Turkish economy is also suffering from price increases and supply bottlenecks due to the war in Ukraine, he underlined. “However,” he said, “A commitment to Turkiye as a trading partner can be worthwhile for Austrian companies. As Austria’s internationalization agency, we have had inquiries from Austrian companies about the Turkish market,” he noted.
The potential of this large market is impressive, he said, while commenting on the future of economic relations. “Turkiye’s growing, consumer-oriented, and well-educated population of 85 million and its geographical location at the crossroads between Asia and Africa make Turkiye a very important growth market for the Austrian economy,” he said. “Turkey has become a high-performing production location in recent years with its geographical proximity to key sales markets – its highly advanced technology production has also increased.”
POTENTIAL IN GREEN TECHNOLOGIES
Lackner listed the areas with the potential to increase trade volume as green technologies (renewable energy, environment, waste management), smart cities, the packaging industry, the automotive industry, energy, IT, the chemical industry, and the expansion of winter sports infrastructure. There are also opportunities in the modernization of Turkish industry and (organic) agriculture, he said. “Turkiye also offers a good sourcing market for clothing, the metal industry, and also in technical services. The very well-developed support for R&D offers good opportunities for cooperation, but has not been taken advantage of by Austrian companies,” he underlined.
To convey Austrian companies’ views on the Turkish market, Lackner cited a survey ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Turkiye conducts among the Austrian subsidiaries in the country. According to the results, 70% of Austrian subsidiaries interviewed said that Turkey has gained importance as a market for their company in 2022 because of the current global political and economic developments and uncertainties. “50 % of respondents see a positive and concrete impact of the implementation of the Green Deal in Europe on their business in Turkiye. Despite the current political and economic situation in Turkiye, about 50 % of interviewees see a positive development in their total turnover, the order situation, and future investments in Turkiye within the next 12 months.”
‘Austrian Business in Turkiye’ yearbook
ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Turkiye also celebrated the first edition of Austrian Business in Turkiye’s yearbook, presented at the 70th-year reception. “This brochure brings the Austrian economy in Turkiye to the forefront,” said Gerhard Lackner, Austrian Trade Commissioner for Turkiye, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. “In it, Austrian partners, institutions, associations, and foundations that contribute significantly to Austria’s success and presence in Turkiye provide an overview of economic history and current developments. The most important sectors, projects, and events aim to give an impression of the importance of Austria’s economic activities in Turkiye. With Austrian Business in Turkiye, we introduce 33 of the 250 Turkish companies that have a capital relationship with Austria, the sales and business partners of Austrian companies in Turkiye, export-oriented companies, and the performance of the Austrian economy in Turkiye. The company profiles of Austrian companies and their success stories in Turkiye give an idea of their quality, innovative power, know-how, consistency, and reliability,” he said.