This world break will soon be over. So, has Turkey been already writing its strategy for the post-COVID-19?
Ataturk, the Commander-in-Chief of our struggle for independence, which started in 1918, had planned the bank, language and history institution, universities and factories to be opened during the war.
As the children of a generation planning the future even on that day, we need to prepare the post-crisis plans we are experiencing today. We need to plan to turn our geography into an advantage, invest in technology and focus on producing the products and services the world needs.
Money is no longer in the mouth or stomach of the lion, but in the exact problem of the world. We are in a world where those who see this problem, find innovative solutions and quickly turn it into value added products and services will win.
İbn-i Haldun said that geography is destiny. Developments in globalization and communication technology have slightly eroded this discourse. We have entered a period when geography was an opportunity if the right policies are implemented.
It is in our hands to turn our logistics potential from our geography into an advantage. 40 percent of world trade is made in the west of Turkey. 11 percent of the world's population lives in Europe. 25 percent of world trade is in the east of Turkey. 61 percent of the world's population is located in Asia.
With a 4-hour flight, Turkey has the opportunity of easy access to 1.6 billion potential customers in Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa, and to a market for $ 28 trillion. Our country is a natural transfer center with its geographical location. A strategic bridge between Asia and Europe. It is in our hands to turn this into an opportunity.
Turkey should plan opportunities and threats and plan 2030. The world continues to spin in every sense. In order for Turkey to find its own axis without being swept between poles and to become a center of attraction, it is necessary to determine its long-term plans, which do not vary according to individuals and governments.
This brief break of the world is a great opportunity for us to raise democracy, especially law, to world standards. It is the day for us to revise the policies, including education, which is beneficial today, and to get over the sluggishness on us. When the trade resumes after the corona crisis, the wagons from China to London should return with Turkish goods.
What will be the One Belt One Road Project we talked about last year?
The most talked about topic in world trade was the "One Belt One Road" project launched by China in 2013, which will revive the historical Silk Road. With COVID-19, this project has not been on the agenda for six months. Because the world is in trouble. Yet it's not forgotten.
Aiming to create an uninterrupted trade corridor from Beijing to London, China envisaged an investment of 1 trillion dollars covering 65 countries. The project affecting 35 percent of world trade concerns 62 percent of the world population.
The Chinese government has made approximately 720 billion dollars of infrastructure investment in the countries covered by the project for this project. It provided financial and technical support. In this new belt extending from China to Europe, it has built roads, ports and energy facilities. It invested in its own consumer in a sense.
The "One Belt One Road Project" consists of two parts. The first is the Silk Road economic belt, which consists of land and railways. The other is the 21st Century sea silk road. It is an important actor in supporting this project with the Turkey middle corridor initiative. The middle corridor extends from Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan by rail, from there, over the Caspian sea, to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, to China.
Within the framework of the agreement signed with China in 2015, investments were made in Yavuz Sultan Selim and Osmangazi bridges, Filyos, Çandarlı and Mersin ports. Turkey has added new ways to these investments.
96 percent of 10 million containers per year from China to Europe go by sea and 4 percent through the Trans-Siberian railway line called the northern corridor.
The middle corridor is 2,000 km shorter and cheaper compared to the northern corridor. Moreover, it is more favorable in terms of climatic conditions. In this way, it will reduce the transportation process by one third compared to the seaway, and will ensure that the products reach their targets 15 days earlier.
The transportation process of the freight departing from Beijing, the capital of China, to London, the capital of England will decrease from 4-8 weeks to 10-12 days. China Railway Express, which departed from China and started to Europe by using Marmaray over Kars, became a freight train to Europe.
The transportation time of the train, which will exceed 11 thousand 483 kilometers with 2 continents, 10 countries and 2 seas, was announced as 12 days from China to Prague. In the London-Beijing uninterrupted trade line, which China wants to establish to transport its goods to Europe faster, the position Turkey will take is vital for our long-term interests.
With COVID-19, China has changed its priorities, but this does not last long. The Chinese government, which is effectively fighting the virus, will recover before anyone else. But this alone has no meaning. Perhaps China will be held responsible for the virus and will pay huge compensations to Europe. However, the Chinese government will make sure that this compensation will pay to return Europe to its old days and to complete the belt- road project. Because cooperation with a strong European economy is in the advantage of China. Otherwise, the 720 billion dollars spent for the belt road will be thrown away, however, China will stand its ground.
While America is fighting the virus, China’s ship will already have sailed
Neither COVID-19 nor anything else can prevent China's project. From now on we can witness different wars between the USA and China. All statistics show that the Chinese economy will surpass the US economy in 2030. Moreover, this situation of China, which makes a closer trade with Europe, is not liked by the American government at all.
In an environment where world markets cannot compete with cheap and abundant Chinese goods, that China overcomes the distance problem which is its only disadvantage worries many countries, especially the USA. In order to turn our geography to an advantage, it would be appropriate for Turkey to conduct a profit and loss analysis today.
How useful is it for Turkey's manufacturing industry to get Chinese goods to Turkey faster and easier?
As a country crossing trade routes, will Turkey be on the plus or minus when the income from transportation and the possible negative effects on the manufacturing industry are compared?
The era of "What can I sell to China" for Turkey should begin
It must be remembered that the population of China has and old population and this old population will be 300 million by 2030. There are great opportunities in terms of tourism.
In 2019, the Chinese economy grew 40 times compared to 1980. Today, Turkey gives a significant foreign trade deficit in our trade with China, which is the second largest economy in the world. In 2018, our exports to China amounted to $2.9 billion and our imports to $20.7 billion.
The export of Turkey to China is 1.8 percent of our general exports. Imports from China are around 10 percent of overall imports. 80 percent of our exports to China are consisting of marble and travertines, chrome, borates and other mineral products. Electricity, machinery and devices, iron, steel, industrial machinery and devices and computing machines are the main products in our imports.
Now it is the day of planning to “what to sell to China” taking a look at what we have. If the trains from China turn back with our processed and value added products, we can find the way out.