The current economic situation in the EU is scrutinized and analysed on a daily basis by major newspapers all around the globe. One of the latest and major developments was that EU nations were facing recession, once more. The diagnosed problems are multiple and also vary from one country to the other. A precise depiction of the current EU crisis, as it is referred to, usually leads to an experts’ debate, which is located beyond the scope of this short contribution. We would like to focus here on possible elements of solution, which already exist, that are though not always sufficiently highlighted: there is a need for the EU to broaden up its current perspective in terms of foreign trade and Turkey has there a major role to play.
Turkey represents a long-standing trade partner of the EU, which 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 (e.g. the customs union signed in 1995). The intricacy of Turkey-EU trade relations is a given.
Considering the performances the Turkish economy has demonstrated in the last decade, the numerous positive signs unfolded by its economy (not overseeing remaining problems such as a negative balance of payments), the country appears to be a partner of choice for any third country looking for new trade opportunities.
One of the particularities Turkey enjoys the most is notably a geography providing the country with the third biggest amount of neighbours in the world. In terms of trade possibilities, this means a lot.
Accordingly, and parallel to its economic success, Turkey has tremendously expanded 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. Turkey’s vicinity is tackled, making use of intrinsic ties Ankara possesses with direct neighbours (culture, language and the likes); however, trade targets located far beyond Turkish boarders are also reached with definite success.
It goes without saying that some EU countries (such as Germany and the Netherlands) have already understood the potential Turkey represents in terms of geostrategic trade location (as a partner or interlocutor): German and Dutch companies are present by the thousands in Turkey, underscoring the definite key role the latter plays as a trade hub.
Turkey and EU countries have developed relations that go beyond the sole EU framework. The growing interest of European companies for the Turkish market (as a producer and selling country) is perceptible in the already mentioned growing number of foreign companies in Turkey. Nevertheless, not all EU players take this opportunity as a given.
As an example, one notices the slim presence of French companies in Turkey (due to some extend to political reasons as well), while at the same time the SME sector in France does not currently show healthy signs and could benefit from some backup.
Taking the current crisis into consideration, it is through closer collaboration between the two countries that French companies could search for solutions outside of usual perspective. French businesses might alleviate the current pressure under which their work in their country by expanding towards new and more receptive markets. In that respect, Turkey and the potential it represents as a geostrategic trade hub, could function as a passepartout, opening up trade doors for French companies to its neighbouring markets and beyond.
Both sides have much to win out of such cooperation: France gets fresh air by tackling new or less tapped markets. Turkey would continue enhancing relations with a EU key actor, proving in turn commitment to one of its European partners.
The EU’s current economic challenges will require solutions stemming from within but also from outside of the EU scope. Concerning the latter, and in terms of trade opportunities, Turkey appears to be a suitable partner, opening up doors to a multitude of countries and regions. This role of a geostrategic trade hub, which could be imagined in the form of a passepartout, would be of strong benefit for many EU countries at the moment.
To cut a long story short, the EU and Turkey are long-standing and reliable partners. In the current difficult economic climate, Turkey has many opportunities to offer in terms of trade perspective (its own domestic market, its key trade interlocutor role in the region, etc.) to its European counterparts. Taking benefit from the Turkish potential would underscore that Turkey and the EU will continue standing next to one another, in good as in bad times.