Istanbul — Turkey is attracting a lot more attention from global materials and machinery suppliers, drawn by its rapid growth in the last 10-plus years to become Europe's second or third-largest market for plastics processing, depending on how it's measured.
It's moved ahead of countries with traditionally larger plastics sectors like France and the United Kingdom, and has surpassed or pulled even with Italy, traditionally the second largest.
The last two years have been more difficult — global economic softness, domestic political uncertainty and the spillover from wars in Syria and other neighbors have all taken a toll. But Turkey is seen as having solid long-term prospects.
It's become Europe's largest manufacturing base for white goods; it has a sizable car manufacturing industry; and its plastics processing industry is a significant exporter to the Middle East.
“As a global player, you can't afford not to be in such a growth market,” said Horst Klink, A. Schulman Inc.'s vice president of engineering plastics for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in an interview at the Plast Eurasia show in Istanbul in early December. “And it's regarded as a growth market.”
Turkey's processing industry is the largest market for plastics materials exports from the European Union, taking 13.7 percent of exports. That's ahead of China with 12.4 percent and the United States with 11 percent, according to 2014 data from the PlasticsEurope trade group, the most recent figures.
Turkey's plastics processors are solid regional exporters, averaging a trade surplus in finished plastic products of $900 billion annually from 2012-2014, according to data from the Turkish Chemical Manufacturers Association.
The biggest attraction for global firms is the heavy reliance those processors have on imports: more than 80 percent of Turkey's resin and plastics machinery are imported.
Relying on imports