27 Şubat 2012 Pazartesi

Iranian firms get closer to Turkey, says businessman

Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul-Hürriyet Daily News
Many Iranian firms are approaching Turkey to open to the world as banks of Arab Gulf countries take measures against Iran, says Osman Balta of Gübretaş

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26 Şubat 2012 Pazar

Turkey could consider Tobin tax to fight risks

Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul-Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey should act to control hot money flows for a sustainable economy, according to Gerald Epstein of the University of Massachusetts. Epstein recommends that Turkey implement a Tobin tax, a model that penalizes short-term transactions

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24 Şubat 2012 Cuma

Uzbekistan frees, deports Turkish businessmen

Ankara/Istanbul - Hürriyet Daily News
Turks had landed behind bars on charges related to economic crimes. The Uzbek authorities have released four Turkish nationals from prison, bringing to 12 the number of Turks freed and deported from the Central Asian country since an amnesty law was declared last December, diplomatic sources said to Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.
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Turkish Deputy PM confirms ‘bypass’ in new draft law

Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul- Hürriyet Daily News
Deputy PM Ali Babacan said that a new regulation regarding a change in the terms of office for public heads was prepared without his knowledge by some government officials noting that such a mistake would not be repeated again.
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22 Şubat 2012 Çarşamba

Turkey starts nuclear talks with China

Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul - Hürriyet Daily News
Ankara and Beijing will start talks on a planned Turkish nuclear power plant soon, says Deputy PM Ali Babacan. The two countries may also develop stronger banking ties, he says during Chinese Vice President Xi’s visit to Istanbul , noting that Turkey’s doors were wide open for Chinese banks.
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21 Şubat 2012 Salı

Turkish businesses enjoy cheap imports from crisis-hit Greece

Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul-Hürriyet Daily News
Cheaper prices in debt-ridden Greece attract more Turkish companies as imports from its neighbor have jumped nearly 40 percent in one year. ‘As the competitiveness of some Greek companies declined, exporters there looked to the closest market to save their businesses,’ a Turkish business representative says

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17 Şubat 2012 Cuma

Halkbank focuses on regional growth

Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul- Hürriyet Daily News

While state-owned Halkbank is preparing to take over another Turkish bank’s Skopje branch and open a new Belgrade branch, it is also aiming to deepen banking ties with Gulf countries via its Bahrain branch, its top executive said yesterday.
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Işbank posts solid credit growth, looks eastward

Gökhan Kurtaran- Istanbul -Hürriyet Daily News
Alongside a fall in profits, İşbank’s credit growth grew by 43 percent in 2011 from last year, says General Manager Bali. The bank is now looking to expand in Asia, including Iraq, Pakistan, Georgia and China.

13 Şubat 2012 Pazartesi

Turkey vital for energy, EU commissioner says


The European Union has to work with partners in a bid to form a ‘united Europe,’ according to Oettinger, the union’s top energy commisioner. ‘Turkey comes first in these countries for cooperation,’ he says

Construction work continues at the Star Refinery at the Petkim facility in the Aegean province of İzmir. The project is a joint Turkish-Azeri investment. Turkey is doing all it can to feed Europe with energy, Minister Taner Yıldız says.
Turkey holds significant importance for Europe’s energy security due to its geographical positioning and regional roles, said the European Union’s top energy commissioner yesterday.
“Looking at the map, we can see that Turkey plays a significant role in energy security,” Günther Oethinger said before the start of the “Quartet Meeting” in Istanbul.
Oethinger attended the meeting alongside Stefan Füle, commissioner responsible for enlargement and European neighborhood policy, Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s EU minister, and Taner Yıldız, the energy minister.
“We have talked on plans for increasing the inter-consecutiveness of Turkey with the countries in the region and Turkey’s neighbors to compensate the need in case of a problem in any other supplier,” said Oethinger, noting that Turkey remains “a strong candidate” for the transfer of the Caspian energy resources to Europe.
However, Turkey has not yet started the official chapter with the EU within the scope of the membership negotiations, Yıldız recalled after the meeting.
“Turkey has done all its best and did not put forward the opening of the energy chapter as a condition while signing crucial energy agreements also effecting Europe,” he said in response to a Daily News question.
“We have had more de-facto gains than we had in official talks,” said Yıldız. “Now it is time to put them on paper.”
Yıldız also said talks with the EU commissioner did not include the hot topic of embargo on Iranian oil.

The southern corridor
According to Yıldız, Turkey was the only country that had taken a concrete step in energy projects to feed Europe by signing on Oct. 25, 2011, the ShahDeniz II agreement with Azerbaijan to supply natural gas to the Nabucco pipeline project.

“We have talked about the major energy transfer plans such as Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline [ITGI], Nabucco and Trans Anatolian Pipeline [TANAP], which all form the southern corridor,” Yıldız said. “If the energy chapter to start negotiations with the EU has not started yet due to political reasons, it is not our problem but theirs.”
The energy projects between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan; Turkey and Georgia; and all the projects that include the transfer of Caspian gas to Europe were the top issues at the Istanbul meeting, Oethinger said.
In order to form “a united Europe,” the EU has to work with other countries, according to the energy commissioner, who said “Turkey comes first in these countries for cooperation.”
“We are aiming to strengthen and deepen our relations with Turkey in energy issues,” said Füle, noting that in order to take concrete steps the union could form a road map and assign a special committee for energy negotiations with Turkey.
Bağış said Turkey’s 52 years of talks with the union for full membership still continued and urged the union to start opening new chapters – such as energy – that also applied to the interests of the other member countries.

9 Şubat 2012 Perşembe

Minister blames statistics body for poor calculation

Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul- Hürriyet Daily News

The statistics institute calculted last year’s tourism income $5 billion less than the real figure, says Minister Günay. ‘They are asking questions in a slapdash manner and only make an assumption,’ he tells the Daily News

Minister Günay poses at the ruins of an ancient theater in the province of Antalya. ‘If we do not save the cultural heritage, we will find no tourists in 10 years time,’ he says.Turkey’s Statistics Institute (TÜİK) failed to calculate Turkey’s total tourism income of last year, said Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister, who strongly criticizes the institution’s survey models and methodology.
“We recalculated Turkey’s tourism income [for 2012], and the real figure is above $28 billion,” Minister Ertuğrul Günay told the Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of theTurkey Tourism Summit in Istanbul.
TÜİK had announced that country’s total tourism income in 2011 was $23 billion.

Criticism on methodology

“TÜİK conducts surveys at Turkey’s border gates four times a year and asks around 20 questions,” said Günay. “They are asking questions in a slapdash manner and only make an assumption,” he added.
Günay said the Finance Ministry has found out that the institution miscalculated the country’s tourism income by nearly $5 billion. Turkey’s tourism accelerated by attracting nearly 31.5 million tourists from all over the world, Günay said.
“Turkish tourism should not be made a victim of undeserved income and fraud,” he said at the summit. “We will not hand the tourism sector to greedy people.”
Many mayors of the cities in the western and southern coast of Turkey victimized the country’s top tourist destinations for the sake of “unearned income,” said Vural Öğer, member of the European Parliament with the Social Democratic Party of Germany. “Turkish government should keep an eye on these cities’ mayors,” he told the Daily News during the summit.
“We have turned some destinations such as the southwestern province of Kuşadası into a pool of concrete building by destroying nature,” Öğer said, adding that Turkey should focus on high class boutique hotels providing quality service within natural surroundings rather than continuing to offer low budget vacations in all inclusive hotels.
According to him, “concretization” is one of the biggest threats for Turkey’s tourism.
“Turkey has nearly three percent share in the world’s tourism revenues,” said Ümit Boyner, head of Turkish Industrialists and Business Association (TÜSİAD), adding that the sector was attracting attention more than ever.
Turkey’s tourism sector grew by 9.85 percent compared with Europe by 6 percent in last year attracting 31.5 million tourists last year according to Cumhur Güven Taşbaşı, Director General of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Promotion. “World’s leading tour operators are focusing on Turkey and Spain, we will continue to invest more in promotion strategies of Turkey across the world,” he added.


Global hoteliers looking for share in local market

Gökhan Kurtaran- ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Hoteliers and sector advisors meeting in Istanbul agree that Turkey is on the eve of attracting more and more international brands. The global interest is not limited to Istanbul, but Anatolian cities also due to a growing middle class
People walk pass the Westin New York hotel, a Starwood Hotels subsidiary. Its owner IGH looks for opportunities to invest in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey. AP photo
More than 50 international hotel brands are having talks to enter the Turkish market, which offers attractive opportunities, according to professionals speaking on the sidelines of the Central Asia and Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC).
“We are committed to invest in Turkey’s hotel business,” Angela Brav, chief executive officer of Europe at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IGH) told the Hürriyet Daily News at CATHIC in Istanbul. “We want to bring nine hotel brands in Turkey,” said Brav, adding that the company would decide on investments in Turkey following a meeting with investors due in July.
Staybridge Suites and Hotel Indigo are among the brands that IGH has in its portfolio. “Turkey, Germany, Britain and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries have top priority in our three years investment plans,” she said.
Rotana is among the hotel chains which plan to operate in Turkey soon, according to Ömer İsvan, president of Servotel Corporation, the Istanbul-based consultancy company.
 “Many international hotel brands, over 50 firms are in talks with to start operating in Turkey,” İsvan told the Daily News. Saudi Arabian Rotana Hotels headquartered in Abu Dhabi plans to start operating a hotel in Istanbul, he added.
“We would like to bring our brands here to Istanbul as the city has a lot to offer for hotel operators and investors,” said Roeland Vos, president of European, Middle East and Africa regions at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.
“We are not just interested in Istanbul, but also other cities in Anatolia,” said Vos, “Turkey’s middle class is on rise thanks to strong growth of the Turkish economy, I believe that it’s the right time to invest,” he said.
Headquartered in Hong Kong, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced this week that it would start operating an 80-bedroom luxurious hotel and 214 luxurious residences in southwestern province Bodrum.
More tourists to come
“Turkey is expected to receive nearly 33 million tourists this year, so far only in January nearly 1.4 million tourists from the Middle East and the Gulf have visited the country,” said Jonathan Worsley, board director of Bench Events, main organizer of CATHIC. “We are in the right time to place Turkey top in our investment list now,” he said.

During the January to November period last year, foreign arrivals to Turkey increased 10.2 percent, according to Jones Lang La Salle Turkey’s data.