Already one of the world’s most prominent textile and clothing producers, Turkey this year is aiming higher to hit a sizeable rise in exports.
According to an Anadolu Agency analysis of Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) data, textile and ready-wear sector exports rose 3.8 percent in 2018 to reach $26.1 billion.
Ismail Gulle, TIM’s chairman, told reporters that the figure fell short of the sector’s potential.
"Turkey's textile and apparel sector will turn our currency advantage to an opportunity in 2019 and work through their target thanks to Turkish brands [instead of contract manufacturing]," he said.
Gulle added that 500 shops featuring Turkish brands are set to open abroad this year.
He said that this year the textile and apparel sector aims to boost exports by around 10 percent to some $29 billion.
Ahmet Oksuz, head of the Istanbul Textile and Raw Materials Exporters Association (ITHIB), underlined that exporters are prioritizing getting a larger slice of the global market.
"One of our biggest targets is to make the sector, which is currently the seventh-biggest exporter globally, one of world's top five exporters by raising its share to 5 percent of the global market," he said.
Textile sector exports to Africa and the Americas picked up last year, along with the EU, Turkey’s main trading partner, Oksuz pointed out.
"Our sector's exports to Africa hit an all-time high, topping last year’s target of $1 billion, up 13.5 percent year-on-year," he said.
Calling Africa a strategic target market for the sector, Oksuz said South America and the Far East have been identified as this year’s targets.
"We will carry out projects for the Japanese and South Korean markets," he said.
Mustafa Gultepe, head of the Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB), said in the mid- and long-term, the ready-wear sector aims to export $33 billion in goods annually.
"We project that clothing sector exports will grow 10 percent on a yearly basis in 2019," Gultepe said.
Ready-wear exporters will focus on the U.S. market along with their biggest market, the EU, he said.
"Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa are also among our target markets," he added.
Gultepe said Turkey can do quick product turnaround thanks to its integrated facilities, strong design infrastructure, experience, know-how, and qualified labor force.
"Turkey has a great advantage for the European market in terms of its geographical location," he said.
In 2018 the textile and raw materials and ready-wear sectors combined constituted nearly 16 percent of Turkey's total exports.
Turkey's exports last year hit an all-time high of $168.1 billion, up from about $157 billion in 2017, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan announced last week.
Exports in 2018 climbed 7.1 percent year-on-year, she said.