ANKARA

Turkey will not let the weakening of the Turkish industry due to the pandemic as the country will implement policies to keep it alive, the industry and technology minister said on Thursday.

The country fights the economic, social and psychological impacts of the novel coronavirus while trying to protect citizens’ health, Mustafa Varank stressed in an online meeting of the Automotive Suppliers Association of Turkey.

On Tuesday, Varank announced that all automotive factories will reopen by May 11, while a large chunk of automotive factories has already restarted production and textile firms are back in operation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said on Monday the country will gradually normalize in the May-July period.

The recovery may take a short time or the world will continue to struggle with a years-long global crisis, Varank stressed.

He added: “Therefore, it is necessary to be ready for both scenarios, while minimizing risks, we should also consider possible opportunities.”

Turkey has been facing economic impacts of the pandemic since April, he recalled.

He also said the automotive sector experienced significant losses up to 85% in several markets, such as the UK, Germany, and Spain.

Referring to the country’s measures to protect the employment and companies, Varank said the government pays personnel salaries, provides financing and postpones debts.

The state also gave 1,000 Turkish liras ($140) to 4.5 million needy citizens, he reminded.

The minister gave five pieces of advice to automotive industrialists, including protecting personnel health, being dynamic, supporting suppliers, raising indigenousness rate, and investing in digital technologies.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed more than 264,400 worldwide, with total infections surpassing 3.78 million, while recoveries passed 1.25 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

In Turkey, the virus, since its outbreak, has infected 131,744 people, while causing 3,584 deaths. Over 78,200 people have recovered so far.

* Writing and contribution by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul

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