The current economic situation in the European Union (EU) is scrutinized on a daily basis by major newspapers all around the globe. One of the latest and major developments was that some EU nations are facing recession, once more. The problems are multiple and vary from one country to the other. Let us focus here on possible solutions, which already exist, but are not always sufficiently highlighted: there is a need for the EU to break into new markets and Turkey has a major role to play in this respect.
Given Turkey’s economic performances over the last decade, the numerous positive signs of its economy (not forgetting remaining problems such as a negative current-account-deficit and its dependence on foreign investors’ confidence), the country appears to be a partner of choice for any country looking for new trade opportunities.
Turkey’s geographic location is an enviable trade asset, as it provides the country with the third biggest number of neighbours in the world. In terms of trade possibilities, this means a lot. Trade targets located far beyond Turkish boarders are also reached with a definite success. Turkey has thus been able to increase its room for manoeuvre in trade issues and has been collecting the fruits of the expansion efforts: the presence of Turkish companies in emerging economies (e.g. on the African continent, in Central Asia, the Middle East, etc.) is overwhelming.
Some EU countries have already understood the potential Turkey represents as a production and trade hub: thousands of German and Dutch companies are present in Turkey, underscoring the key role it plays. Nevertheless, not all EU players take this opportunity for real.
French companies, for example, have a weak presence in Turkey (due, to some extent, to political reasons); at the same time, French SMEs do not currently show signs of good health and could certainly benefit from stronger economic ties with Turkey. A closer collaboration could allow them to look for solutions outside of the usual trade routes, towards new and more receptive markets. In that respect, Turkey could function as a trade passe-partout, opening up doors for French companies to its neighbouring markets and beyond. Turkey would also benefit from such a collaboration as it would secure the already strong economic relations it has with one of the EU’s key players.
Turkey represents a long-standing trade partner to the EU: it has developed to such an extent that it has nearly become part and parcel of the EU economic landscape through the multiple agreements signed between the two parties (e.g. the Customs Union signed in 1995).
To face the current economic challenges, the EU should take even more advantage of the many opportunities Turkey offers in terms of trade perspectives (its own domestic market, its key role as a trade hub, etc.) to its European counterparts. It would underscore that Turkey and the EU will continue standing next to one another, in good as in bad times.