ISTANBUL

As Turkey eases coronavirus measures, the wheels of the manufacturing sector will turn again and Turkish industrialists are hopeful about the future, according to industry representatives.

On Tuesday, Mustafa Varank, the industry and technology minister, announced that all automotive factories will reopen by May 11.

A large chunk of automotive factories have already restarted production and textile firms are back in operation, he noted.

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

Tahsin Oztiryaki, the head of Istanbul Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals Exporters’ Association, said his sector has operated with 80% capacity during the period of pandemic.

There is no harm in opening the factories by ensuring hygiene standards, which can be monitored by the Health Ministry, he stressed in a joint press release issued by industrial associations on Wednesday.

“I guess, after May 15, the activities will resume across the world. It would help us if we act in parallel with the global activity,” he added.

With the worldwide spread of the virus, several sectors — particularly the aviation, tourism and manufacturing — have been affected by measures such as curfews and border restrictions.

Positive impact on industrialists

Adnan Aslan, the head of the Steel Exporters’ Association, stressed that as this virus deeply affects the world, the wheels of production will not turn in one-day, but it is a hope for the industrialists.

“This [reopening factories] decision will have a positive impact on our industrialists,” he noted.

Turkey’s export destinations should also recover for a normalization process of the country’s exporters, added Aslan.

The country’s foreign trade volume fell 34.31% year-on-year to $21.9 billion in April, according to the Trade Ministry data released Monday.

Cetin Tecdelioglu, the chairman of the Hardware Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, highlighted that the hardware factories continued production with 30-50% capacity during the outbreak.

“As the hardware sector, we have always expressed that production should not stop, it should continue at least part-time,” he added.

Burak Onder, the head of Home and Kitchen Appliances Industrialists’ and Exporters’ Association, said there is a gradual normalizing process in different locations in the world, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Norway, Austria and the US.

“Our factories will start their activities as of May 11. This process gives our people and our business world confidence and hope,” he added.

The home and kitchen appliances sector has closed last year with a $3-billion volume in exports.

Turkey can become main supply center

Rustem Cetinkaya, a member of the Sectors Council of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly, said the 40% drop in industrial exports in April is an indication of a contraction in manufacturing.

“Assuming a possible fall in tourism revenues until the end of 2020, exports and industry will gain more significance,” Cetinkaya noted.

He added that industrialists will continue to be the driving force of Turkey’s exports.

Gokhan Turhan, the chairman of the Armature, Valve, Faucet, Installation Equipment and Valve Industrialists Association, said the way to fight the pandemic is not to run from it, but to learn how to fight.

He noted: “We should return to life by taking all measures, including social distancing.

“Our exports and production should continue, and we must show that Turkey can become a main supply center.”

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 258,100 worldwide, with total infections over 3.68 million, while recoveries surpassed 1.21 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

In Turkey, the virus, since its outbreak, has infected 129,491 people, while causing 3,520 deaths. Over 73,200 people have recovered so far.

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