After spending a few days covering the Plast Eurasia fair in Istanbul, it's easy to see the business case for Turkey's plastics industry.
The plastics processing sector here has grown 8-10 percent a year for most of the last decade, and is now the second or third largest in Europe for molding and manufacturing plastic products, depending on how you count.
Germany is the biggest, and Turkey (with 78 million people and with the demographic advantage of a young population), seems on track to surpass Italy, if it hasn't already.
Equally importantly for global plastics companies, Turkey's processing sector is heavily dependent on imports. I mean heavily — more than 75 percent of its plastics machinery and resins are imported.
That's different than most of the other big plastics processing centers, like Germany, China, the United States or Japan, which all have more local machinery and materials companies to support their industry.
Turkey is the largest maker of appliances in Europe, and not just as a manufacturing location. One of its local companies, Arcelik, is one of Europe's largest appliance brands in its own right. Its automobile sector is also good sized.
So it's clear why the country is attracting more interest from the global industry.
It's also clear that global events are impacting this place very directly, more so than a lot of places that the plastics business world travels to.
For example, Turkey shoots down a Russian jet Nov. 24, and the local plastics industry wonders what it could mean, since Russia is a significant export market.
Security issues pop up. The U.S. consulate in Istanbul closed quite suddenly for one day during my trip, citing an imminent security threat. That same consulate came under gunfire from two attackers in August.
The refugees from the wars in Syria and elsewhere also are front and center.
Turkey is taking care of 2 million refugees, half the total of 4 million from the region's conflicts. (Europe has taken in 1 million, and the United States plans to take in 10,000 from the Syrian conflict, by comparison).
I also met one man who said he fled Syria four years ago. He was working in a restaurant I randomly picked for dinner.
He explained, in extremely fluent English that I don't think is common in restaurants here, that he had worked in Damascus in the embassy of a Northern European country (I'm withholding the name) processing visas.
After fleeing to Beirut and now Istanbul, he said he was trying to figure out the next step.
None of that has much to do with the trade show, or with what is traditionally news for Plastics News.
I've been impressed by the Turkish companies and people I've met. From the point of view of our newspaper and our readers, I can see why the industry has grown.
The Plast Eurasia show was full of business people making what seemed like solid cases for growth here, and for why they were paying more attention to this market.
Turkey, it seems to me, has many different realities right now. Stay tuned for more coverage.