Professor Gükaynak said that the private sector demanded things that were in its own interest, that it was seeking rent. It doesn’t have to be about rent, though. It could be things that increase business competitiveness or effectiveness in the international arena. I’m not convinced that the private sector doesn’t have sophisticated policy demands. Perhaps you mean the private sector doesn’t demand the kinds of policies necessary for the long-term health of the economy and for social prosperity if such policies don’t directly serve their interests in the short term.
There may be two reasons for this. Perhaps the private sector isn’t aware, or doesn’t care, about such things, busy as it is pursuing its own interests and trying to keep afloat. Or perhaps it thinks demanding reforms isn’t going to be of any use. Another significant reason, I think, is the private sector’s dependence on government in Turkey; hence, our studies and demands with respect to policy choices don’t attract as much attention as we’d like and certainly nowhere near as much as in countries we consider to be our role models. Perhaps the institutional mechanisms needed to evaluate our demands have yet to mature in Turkey. Instead, dialogue takes place through informal mechanisms based on goodwill and a desire to preserve a positive environment. Lacking any institutional structure, these mechanisms are impermanent and unlikely to provide consistently good results.
Let’s discuss the state of our industry now.
Based on my own observations and experience, without reference to data, it seems that large-scale industrial investments are no longer high on the agenda. We used to have enormous manufacturing projects that everyone knew about, even newspaper readers not involved with business. Everyone talked about the projects and watched as they took shape. People knew when they would come on line and looked forward to the date. That atmosphere seems to have vanished. Instead, we all know how much construction has come to the fore in Turkey. Another observation is this: Some intermediate product manufacturers have closed down, and imports are now supplying many product categories. We understand the reasons for this to a degree. Opening up to international markets and the customs union were certain to cause collateral damage; that’s the nature of this process. Since no one can be competitive in all things, it’s to be expected that our dependence on imports will rise in some product groups, and our reach into foreign markets will rise in others, leading to structural changes. At the same time, it’s also true that some companies and institutions are moving their investments abroad. They gain considerable market share abroad and move their production accordingly. Unless I’m mistaken, however, neither the share of industry in our economy nor Turkey’s ranking among manufacturing countries has changed much. Turkey continues to be an impressive manufacturer, and manufacturing continues to be a powerful economic driver. How would you assess our position in this context? Does Turkey need to develop an economic structure led by an advanced service sector? Or do you think we’ll never be able to do that unless the manufacturing industry can defend its position? What is the outlook, and where are we headed?