Turkey is the most globally connected country in South and Central Asia, according to the DHL Global Connectedness Index (www.DHL.com); The country moves ten places up to rank 55th out of 169 countries on the Index.
One of the few countries to have experienced economic growth in 2020, a year when COVID-19 ravaged economies around the world, Turkey saw its economy grow by 1.8% last year (https://bit.ly/3ftjqKq) and is forecasted to expand by 4.8% in 2021 (https://reut.rs/3v4QnTX). In addition to the Turkish Government’s robust economic stimulus campaign, the country’s global connectedness seems to have played a pivotal role in Turkey’s recovery.
According to the seventh DHL Global Connectedness Index (GCI), published by DHL and New York University’s Stern School of Business in December 2020, Turkey is the most globally connected country in South and Central Asia. It had the 10th greatest gains in international connectedness out of 169 countries in 2017-2019, moving up 10 places to 55th.
John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, believes that international connections are indispensable in maintaining the global economy. “Trade and digital information flows play a critical role in keeping the world connected and generating forward momentum.
The bi-annual DHL Global Connectedness Index employs more than 3.5 million data points to track globalisation in 169 countries, based on the size of several international flows. The latest report provides a comprehensive assessment of globalization during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Against the backdrop of a difficult economic situation, the contribution of international flows to Turkey’s economy has grown significantly. Turkey’s GCI gains were broad-based, across trade, capital, information and people flows,” explained Mustafa Tonguç, DHL Express Turkey’s country manager.
According to data by the Turkish Trade Ministry, Turkey exported to 226 countries and territories in 2020, with exports hitting an all-time monthly high of $17.84bn (€14.7bn) in December. Turkey’s gains in exports were especially notable in the 2020 GCI Index, with figures for both goods and services growing significantly as a share of Turkey’s GDP.
“Turkey launched a program to boost the country’s value-added exports and to assist firms to expand production capacity, investing nearly $260m (€213.9m) to support exporters during the pandemic,” said Tonguç.
Turkey’s e-commerce trade volume is expected to grow by more than $3bn to $28.9bn by 2022
Turkey also plans to establish strategically-placed, new foreign logistics centres in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Far East and Russia.
In January this year, Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) chairperson Ismail Gülle revealed plans for the centre in the United States, which is expected to accelerate local exporters’ access to markets and boost Turkey’s foreign sales volume. “We have carried out a detailed study for the logistics centre we plan to open in the USA. We have a target of $100 billion in foreign trade volume with the country. We believe that the logistics centre to be opened is of great importance for us to achieve this goal quickly”, Gülle said.
E-commerce and Digitalization
Rapid digitalization and growing e-commerce is another factor in Turkey’s economic growth. Turkey’s e-commerce trade volume is expected to grow by more than $3bn to $28.9bn by 2022, with online shopping grabbing 38% of retail sales.
Tonguç says that small and medium businesses have rapidly adjusted to meet current consumer trends: “As the pandemic transforms behaviour, companies have started focusing on hygienic delivery and customer support and are investing in digitalization and e-commerce.”
The Way Forward
A successful vaccination process (https://bit.ly/3tZT9Zj), which started in December, will further help the country’s rebound. Thanks to an impressive logistics system, Turkey vaccinated nearly seven million people (https://bit.ly/3bEMFJ4) in just 40 days by late February.
“Connected supply chains and logistics networks play an essential role in keeping the world running and stabilising globalization, especially at a time of a crisis that spans our globe,” said Pearson.
“The recent vaccine breakthrough has put a spotlight on the systemic importance of fast and secure medical logistics dependent on a worldwide interconnected network that effectively ensures international distribution.”
Located at the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is close to the Balkans, Russia and Central Asia. It has a geographic advantage as it acts as a strategic stopover point between Africa and Europe.
“This is an opportunity for Turkey to become even more connected and successful, taking advantage of our connections around the world to boost the amount of business that flows,” concludes Tonguç.