Gökhan Kurtaran - ISTANBUL- email@example.com
A possible Turkish boycott of French products and companies would not only harm bilateral trade relations but also possibly discourage new French investment in Turkey, a top executive of the Turkish French Trade Association (CCIFT) said yesterday.
A possible boycott of French firms might slow down investments, says Yves Marie Laouenan.
“We should bear in mind a possible boycott of French products and firms in Turkey might also slow down investments from France, the second biggest foreign direct investor in Turkey,” said Yves Marie Laouenan, vice president of the CCIFT.
With tensions heating due to the French Parliament’s decision last week to penalize any denial of the 1915 events as genocide, “trade and business relations established over many years should be taken care of,” he told the Daily News.
France ranks the fifth biggest European direct investor in Turkey with $10.3 billion worth of investments between 2000 and 2010, following the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg, respectively, according to data from Turkey’s Central Bank.
French investments in the country were only $1.6 billion in 2000. Even in the midst of the European economic crisis, Turkey managed to attract $816 million in the first half of this year, the data showed.
“We do not want to be involved in politics, we want to trade and enhance economic relations between both countries,” said Laouenan, noting that the French Senate rejected a similar genocide bill in the past.
Laouenan said Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist assassinated in 2007, was among the pioneers who put his signature to a letter urging French politicians to withdraw from passing such a bill in 2006. “A similar petition will soon be launched and presented to French senators,” Laouenan said.
“Nearly 100,000 Turkish people work in French firms in Turkey,” said Zeynep Necipoğlu, the head of the association calling on both sides to calm down and care more about economic relations between the countries. Currently, more than 300 French firms operate in Turkey, including Schneider, Areva, St Gobain, Lafarge, Danone, L’Oreal, Carrefour, Total, BNP Paribas, AXA, Groupama and Dexia.
“The bill has not been accepted by the French Senate and we will continue to express the sensitivity of the issue to French senators,” Necipoğlu said.
Last week, Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış warned that “Turks decide on their own,” implying citizens might boycott French goods as they did before against Italy. However, any attempt to boycott trade with France would fail to achieve results, Ümit Boyner, head of Turkish Industry & Business Organization (TÜSİAD), said in an interview with the Daily News Dec. 28 following the minister’s comments.