(Mai 2010) Harmony is of utmost importance in Turkish day-to-day life. Part and parcel as far as Izmir’s Trade Fair „Marble“ is concerned, is that an orchestra accompany the inauguration (in this case a brass band), all speakers exchange greetings and niceties and all join in singing the national anthem.
This year saw almost emphatic warnings addressed at politicians: point of contention was the new fair grounds close to the airport which would almost double the exhibit area from 43,000 m² to some 80,000 m². The planning phase has been ongoing for years. But it was not until recently that politicians were able to feather their nests with the acquisition of the property.
Obviously nothing much will change the cramped conditions in the old cultural park any time soon. „Even if all goes according to plan, the new site will be ready in 2012 at the earliest“, as predicted by Selahattin Onur, chairman of the national trade association Tümmer.
Looking at exports: whereas 2007 and 2008 were growth years for the Turkish market (+13% by value, +8.19% by mass) 2009 saw the market take a plunge in the midst of the world-wide financial crisis: -12.8% by value and -3.32% by mass (see table). Compared to other countries the trend is only moderately downward.
But close scrutiny uncovers the problem: processed material saw negative growth of -22% by value and -16.4% by mass whereas exports of raw material saw an upward trend: e.g. blocks +3.6% (value) and +4.1% (mass), or slabs +10.1% (value) and +2% (mass). Similar statistics are reported from other countries: during times of crisis more raw material is sold to Asian producers of processed material.
This trend is also reflected in the table of exports by countries (see below): to China +5.74% by value and +30.5% by mass. The USA, on the other hand, previously the strongest buyer, curtailed turnover by -36.3% (value) and -37.5% (mass) continuing the downward trend already in progress. Growth was registered almost exclusively in Muslim countries like Libya, Iraq, Egypt as well as in some States of the former Soviet Republic.
The important role of China in the Turkish stone industry is also reflected in numbers at this year’s trade fair. The organizer IZFAS is quick to underscore the great number of Chinese and Indian visitors. The fair, held from March 24th to 27th for the 16th time saw an increase in visitors and exhibitors alike (see below)
According to Selahattin Onur the branch is fighting a hydra at home what with exaggerated laws. As far as ecology and sustainability are concerned, he wishes „that regulations be understandable instead of ending in more and unnecessary bureaucracy“, he says in an interview. He also expressed the branch’s call for financial relief regarding social deductions of salaries at source.
But the biggest burden is the cost of energy „which is higher in Turkey than in other countries world-wide”. The source of the burden is a luxury tax implemented a few years ago, which applies among other goods to high levels of energy consumption and was meant to aid victims of earthquakes. By now it has become a permanent condition.