World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia 2008

  • The Emerging Business Environment

    Friday 31st October 2008 - 3:30pm - 4:45pm

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  • Ahmet Ashaboglu

    Sureyya Ciliv

    Milko van Duijl

    Sir Julian Horn-Smith

    Mehmet Simsek

    Günter Verheugen

    Moderated by •

    Sirin Payzin Acet


    Friday 31 October

    Sirin Payzin Acet, TV Journalist, CNN Türk, Turkey, launched the discussion by asking why Russia, Turkey and other regional emerging markets remain important to investors.

    Mehmet Simsek

    , Minister of Economy of Turkey, responded that he remains convinced that when emerging market countries experience deficiencies in investment capital or technology, it is usually because they have failed to create a proper investment climate and a stable legal structure. In Turkey’s case, Simsek contended, the investment climate looks very good, despite recent doom and gloom over the financial crisis. “We are going through a major transformation in terms of our business practice, our legal system, our institutional set-up and even in terms of our mindset,” he said. “This transformation means that you invest in Turkey as an emerging country offering high growth potential but at a relatively lower risk in the long run.” Turkey’s large, relatively young population means that it has enormous growth potential, and roughly 70% of its roughly US$ 940 billion GDP is from private consumption. Simsek is also optimistic about investment in Russia and Central Asia because of the global hunger for energy.

    Günter Verheugen

    , Vice-President and Commissioner, Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, Brussels, said that increasingly Turkey’s economic position is becoming one of the focal points for the discussion of its EU membership. “As a strongly emerging economy, Turkey will strengthen the European Union,” said Verheugen. “It will not be an economic burden for us.” Verheugen went on to say that Russia’s case is different. Russia is not trying to become a member of the EU, but the EU’s long-term vision is to create an integrated market that not only includes the EU countries, but also the neighbouring countries. This would be a market of more than one billion people. “In the world of tomorrow,” Verheugen concluded, “integrated structures will be the best model for success.”

    Sureyya Ciliv

    , Chief Executive Officer, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri, Turkey, is even more optimistic about Turkey’s prospects, and predicted that, as better transportation and communications networks are established, the highest potential may come from Anatolia, rather than only from the major cities. Ciliv said that his company, Turkcell, is now the third largest mobile phone network in Europe with more than 60 million subscribers, roughly one-half of them in Turkey.

    Milko van Duijl

    , President, Lenovo EMEA, France, is also upbeat about the future. Lenovo is now a truly global US$ 16 billion company with a 38% market share in China. The sheer size of emerging markets is growing along with purchasing power. Turkey currently has a population of 71 million and a PC market penetration that is roughly 10%. In three years the market is expected to experience 20% PC penetration. Effectively, the market will double in three years. The growth might happen more slowly, he added, but the fact that it will materialize is absolutely certain. The key for each of the emerging markets, van Duijl added, is to differentiate themselves from competitors.

    Ahmet Ashaboglu

    , Chief Financial Officer, Koç Holding, Turkey, noted that although Turkey’s labour force is not cheap, it tends to be highly qualified and very productive. There is a pool of qualified management talent, and Turkey is positioned at the centre of a market that represents roughly 1.2 billion people. Foreign direct investment had hovered around US$ 1 billion up until 2005. But in 2005, FDI started to make a significant jump, and in 2006 and 2007, Turkey received more than US$ 20 billion. A more stable government and EU accession acting as an anchor helped. The potential to develop the market remains very high. For instance, car ownership in Turkey is only about 70 vehicles per 1,000 people. In the EU, the ratio is closer to 480 per 1,000. Turkey produces roughly 50% of its automotive components, compared to Eastern Europe, which only produces about 20% of its components.

    Julian Horn-Smith

    , Member of the International Advisory Board, Altimo, Russian Federation, stressed that governments can play an important role by insuring liquidity, and in developing policies that make it possible for business to work effectively.


  • Mehmet Simsek Mehmet Simsek
    Minister of Finance of Turkey

    1988, BSc (Hons) in Economics, Ankara Univ.; 1993, MSc in Finance and Investment, Exeter University,...

  • Sureyya Ciliv Sureyya Ciliv
    Chief Executive Officer, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri, Turkey

    1981, degrees in Computer Engineering and Industrial and Operational Engineering, University of Mich...

Moderated by

  • Sirin Payzin Sirin Payzin
    Anchor, CNN Türk, Turkey

    Graduate, Bilkent University and NYU. With CNN Türk: News Anchor; Prime Time News Presenter, coveri...