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TURKEY: An Introduction to Shipping

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Turkey has been an important trading centre between Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Russia for centuries. Turkey has also been a channel of investment, making itself more relevant in the international stage by the day. The maritime sector is a leader in the Turkish economy, even after incidents that have been shaking it in the past decade. The tone surrounding any forecasts to be made since the hit taken by most industries last year is oscillation. Regardless of the unstable economy, Turkey in 2021 is projected to start an overall recovery in its major sectors. However, the economy remains vulnerable due to the COVID-19 related adaptations and the new dynamics they have imposed. The need for constraint will take a toll on the speed of said recovery depending on how the macrostructures play out, especially when it comes to controlling the pandemic.

The changed dynamics will play a key role in the function of everything as a whole in such an inherently travel-orientated industry: from the meetings via internet and the execution of contracts without physical encounters of the parties to the complete conduct of businesses without moving. Factors like these, that all the parts had to start adjusting to in order to continue doing their jobs in 2020, along with a crew change and quarantine period for vessels in ports, will strongly affect maritime trade in 2021. 

Sectors such as services, transport, shipping, storage as well as retail – big employers and some of the foundation of the Turkish commercial relevance – hold extra weight on the discussion regarding the country’s economic situation. While on one hand, these players tend to heal the fastest following the course of the new normal, on the other, debt will counterbalance in private investment, therefore weakening the demand for exports.

Turkey’s biggest challenges this year in the economic scenario – currency fluctuation, unemployment and inflation – all directly affect the shipping and maritime work. However, the advanced technology and increase of formal qualification positions in the country’s educational system should make for a better picture. The second wave of the pandemic arose in November 2020 causing a slight deficit on the exports and it was believed that it was the first sign of a new significant shrinkage. As of January 2021, data from the Preliminary Trade Ministry has already shown that during the first month, Turkish exports have reached the highest peak ever when sales were over USD15 billion, representing growth of 2.5%, while the imports were down 5.6%. This is the trend that is believed to rule the shipping industry in 2021 and support the macroeconomic stability of the country.

Research conducted by the Ministry also shows that Turkey should meet its new economic program targets by the end of the year. With the restrictions at play in order to contain the second wave and adaptations made in all parts of the shipping process – mainly delaying delivery times and massive digitalization of possible steps – the industry shows positive trends. As much as in a global scale, things seem to be contracting, the growth in exports and overall good import numbers make a way for a faster recovery.