Turkish Firms Hope Qatar Show Will Be Gateway for Gulf Exports
By Burak Ege Bekdil
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani after a meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara on Dec. 19, 2014. (AFP)
ANKARA — Turkey’s top defense companies have created come under a corporate identity that they hope will help them win in the hope of winning lucrative deals in Arabian Gulf markets, their new top target region for exports.
High-Tech Port brings together 67 Turkish defense companies, most mainly from the aerospace, naval systems, ITinformation technology, missile systems, defense engineering and armored vehicle sectors.
The High-Tech Port group will display their systems next month in Qatar Oct. 6-8 at during a high-profile exhibition. to be attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatar’s Eemir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, will attend the High-Tech Port Qatar exhibition Oct. 6-8 in Doha.
The exhibitors include Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), military software concernfirm Havelsan, missile maker Roketsan, armored vehicles maker BMC and military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey’s biggest defense company.
"We are targeting exports [to Gulf countries] worth [US] $5 billion in the next 10 years and $20 billion in the next 20 years," saysid Hakan Kurt, High-Tech Port’s general coordinator.
Turkey’s defense exports in 2014 rose 17.7 percent to an all-time high of $1.65 billion. They were at a mere $600 million in 2008.
Kurt says Turkey is close to taking orders for TRJet, Turkey’s its planned indigenous, military-civilian regional jet with dual civilian and military purpose. The aircraft will be launched TRJet, based on the Dornier 328 aircraft, is still in the prototype stage, but the program will be showcased at the exhibition in Qatar.
He said he expects Turkish industry's to report particularly high export growth in exports to the region, particularly to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, to grow in the years ahead.
"Qatar will play the role of a bridge for us to export indigenous products to the Gulf region," Kurt said. "Qatar manages funds worth $2 trillion. It will be our port for exports of systems to the area." Kurt says.
Kurt said claims that Turkishey’s defense companies have lost $2.5 billion worth of contracts in the region due to the Turkish Ankara government’s "principled foreign policy" He refers — referring to Turkey’s diplomatic rows with many Muslim countries in its region, particularly Egypt, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But he defends that the government’s policies were right ["principled."]
Industry analysts say Turkey’s Gulf targets may be too ambitious, industry analysts said.
"It’s difficult to guess. On the one hand Turkey may not be exporting $5 billion worth of systems to the entire world in the next 10 years," one Ankara analyst said. "But on the other, a single deal with one of the friendly Gulf countries could come in a few billion dollars — if Turkey has successfully completed its ambitious indigenous programs." says one Ankara-based analyst.
ForIn the past several years Turkey has been locally designing, developing and manufacturing drones, helicopters, a fighter jet, new-generation main battle tanks, armored vehicles, satellites, naval platforms, smart ammunition and various other defense systems.
"Aerospace may not be a realistic ambition," a London analyst said. "But especially a combat-proven attack helicopter, naval platforms, smart ammunitions and land systems could spell success." says one London-based analyst.
TAI has been producing the T129, an attack helicopter, under license from Italian-British company AgustaWestland.
A political analyst said that it is realistic for Turkey to expect Qatar to be the main gateway for exports to Gulf states.
"Qatar is Turkey’s best regional ally," he said. "It is not only a potential buyer of Turkish systems but can also use its regional clout for sales to other Gulf countries." he said.
Early this year Turkey and Qatar signed a comprehensive military accord that gives both countries the right to deploy soldiers in each other’s territory. The Ankara-Doha military agreement between Ankara and Doha also involves cooperation in military training, defense industry and joint military drills.