GENEVA — Turkey is aiming to become one of the top 10 economies in the world by 2023, with the volume of exports reaching $500 billion by then, a top official told a World Trade Organization forum.

This story first appeared in the March 27, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In 2012, Turkey projects exports to reach $148.5 billion, up from $135 billion posted last year, said Cemalettin Damlaci, deputy undersecretary at Turkey’s ministry of economy. In 2010, Turkey ranked fifth among the world’s exporters of apparel and eighth in textile exports.

“Turkey’s bilateral trade with almost all regions increased substantially in the last five years,” Damlaci said during a two-day WTO session examining Turkey’s trade regime.

During the proceedings, trading partners, including the U.S., European Union and India, took Turkey to task over a range of trade-restrictive barriers in place in a host of sectors, including textiles and apparel. Turkey has raised its most-favored-nation tariffs on a wide range of textiles and apparel, said the Indian delegation, noting that Turkey is also an “important user of antidumping measures…and has also imposed safeguards on a number of products, including cotton yarn.”

A report compiled by the WTO secretariat for the review session highlights that Turkey’s textile and apparel sector has 40,000 manufacturers, mostly privately owned small- and medium-sized businesses producing largely for export. The sector, to cope with heightened global competition, has responded to the challenge by switching to higher value-added finished products and ready-made apparel, necessitating product innovation and brand-building, the report noted.

Initiatives taken by the industry include establishing a textile research and development center, the Istanbul Fashion Academy, organizing Istanbul Fashion Week, and using stylist and designer competitions to stimulate new talent, the report added. But the WTO said the focus on value added has also implied a shift away from basic cotton products.

The main challenges for the Turkish industry “stem from…high electricity prices by international standards and rising wage costs.”

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