Experts have predicted a multi-million pound export boost for the West Midlands after Turkey chose to base its first UK trade commission outside London in Birmingham.
The organisation has opened an office at 11 Waterloo Street, as a base for new chief commercial counsellor Tankut Aydin, who will be responsible for facilitating trade between Turkey and the Midlands.
Latest data shows exports from the West Midlands to Turkey more than doubled to £338 million last year, and are on course to grow again, and experts say it is the most accessible of the world’s most dynamic economies.
They say firms in the automotive supply chain, infrastructure and green technologies could be well placed to benefit from the annual growth of almost seven per cent in the emerging economy.
Mr Aydin, who has taken up the post following stints in Hong Kong and Northern Cyprus, said: “It’s great to have a presence in the UK’s largest city outside London, and our doors are open for business. We believe there are real opportunities here.”
Bilateral trade between Turkey and the UK is currently worth around £10 billion per annum. Furthermore, in terms of Turkey’s total exports the UK ranks second, with a 6.5 per cent share, while Turkey ranks 19th in the UK’s total imports, with a 1.35 per cent share.
A total of £338 million of goods and services was exported from the West Midlands to Turkey last year, up from £164 million the year before, and exports stand at £279 million in the year-to-date.
Total exports from the region to Turkey stood at £285 million in 2008 and £238 million in 2007.
The Turkish Embassy currently has four trade commissioners, three in London and one in Birmingham. A fifth is planned for a new office in Scotland, and Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to double trade with Turkey over the next five years.
Graham Ashmore, head of European policy at UK Trade and Investment in the West Midlands, said this presented a significant opportunity to firms in the region.
He said: “Turkey is one of the world’s most dynamic economies. It has been growing at between six and seven per cent while the rest of the EU has been stagnating.
“This represents a real opportunity.
“It is the most accessible of the fastest growing economies – particularly from Birmingham, with Turkish Airlines flying from the airport.”
The OECD tips Turkey to be the fastest-growing economy after China and India by 2015. It is one of the world’s largest markets, with a population of 73 million, of which 60 per cent is under the age of 35.
More than 2,000 UK companies are currently doing business in Turkey, including Vodafone, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Rolls Royce.
Mr Ashmore added: “The biggest categories of exporter is machinery and transport equipment or metal components, and then road vehicles.
“There are opportunities in many other areas, like environmental technologies, recycling and waste management and renewable energy.”
UKTI is organising an infrastructure and environmental technology group to go out to Turkey in February, followed by a professional services mission and a Eurasia Rail excursion in March.
The Turkish Embassy has taken 810 sq ft on a five-year lease at Nurton Developments’ 11 Waterloo Street, including office and meeting room space.
The Birmingham office of Colliers International brokered the deal for the tenant. Emel Ahmet, a Turkish Cypriot from the firm’s retail team, and colleague Alex Tross, from the office agency team, advised the embassy.
Ms Ahmet said: “The opening up of the Turkish trade commission is a real coup for Birmingham and the region. Not only does the deal strengthen trade links between Turkey and the Midlands, it demonstrates Colliers’ truly international capabilities.”
Theo Holmes, of CBRE, acted for Nurton. He said: “This is a great win for Birmingham and the city’s traditional office core.
“11 Waterloo St’s quality specification and central location, just metres from Birmingham’s most exclusive business address, Colmore Row, was a winning combination. As a result, there is now only one 1,026 sq ft suite left in the building.”