Translated by
Nicola Mira
Sep 2, 2021
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Turkey's textile industry keen to show Europe its green credentials

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Sep 2, 2021

At the beginning of August, the Turkish association of apparel and textile raw materials exporters (ITHIB) announced the deployment of a sustainability programme designed to reduce the environmental impact of the country’s manufacturing output, aligning local producers with the requirements of the EU’s European Green Deal and of western buyers in general.

The senior management of the Turkish Exporters Assembly - ITHIB

The ‘Textile Industry Sustainability Action Plan’ aims to address Turkey’s industrial challenges through 12 strategic points. The latter cover issues like chemical dyes, waste water treatment, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by local manufacturers, as well as issues of traceability and transparency. A ‘Sustainability Platform’ will be introduced in order to set out the goals and chart the progress of the action plan, whose presentation brought together producers, contractors and exporters active in the sector in Turkey.

“We will be able to reach our objectives only through a shared commitment to public-private partnership,” said the head of ITHIB, Ahmet Oksuz, talking to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM). “The Sustainability Action Plan we are drawing up is crucial to protect our competitiveness and create new, long-term added value,” he stated.

The textile sector is strategically important for Turkey's exports. In Q1, the country set a new record in textile export shipments, which were worth nearly $5.3 billion. Turkey is benefiting notably from the flare up in transportation costs between Asia and the West sparked by the pandemic, as maritime freight companies in producer countries are struggling to find containers and ships to dispatch their goods. The situation has prompted a number of European operators to turn towards textile products made in Turkey to a greater degree than before.

Turkish products benefit from swifter customs clearance procedures in EU ports than those made in northern African countries. Indeed, Turkey is firmly established in third place among EU apparel supplier countries. In 2020, despite a 7% slump, the value of Turkish textile and apparel exports to the EU was €9.4 billion. Besides, Turkey is a key supplier to European garment manufacturers, being the second-largest supplier to the EU after China. Last year, the value of Turkish textiles exported to Europe was €4.7 billion.

The Turkish textile industry’s sustainable aspirations are part of a generalised drive by the main producer countries towards more responsible manufacturing. Notably, the goal is to meet the growing demand for green fashion by western markets, and often local markets too. Chinese producers, who had opted to raise the quality of their output in response to the salary rises introduced at the end of the 2000s, are now investing heavily in sustainability, an area in which other countries, like Bangladesh, India and Vietnam, are also trying to improve. The latter’s efforts are partly hampered by the quality of their output, and they are also on hold due to the ups and downs in production caused by the pandemic in the last 12 months.

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