A reliable place
International logistics service providers have to know how to handle local customs in Turkey, too. Elena Firsova, the head of Asstra’s Istanbul office, painted an interesting and positive portrait of the country’s logistics scene in a conversation with the ITJ recently.
Elena, what are the defining characteristics of doing business in Istanbul?
Once you’ve found your niche in Turkey and provide the required services to the standards asked of you, and adhere to the national laws, then you’ll attain your goals here. There’s a distinct lack of red tape here, so you can quickly obtain authorisation for your projects. One of the advantages for European companies operating here is that foreign citizens have the same rights as nationals here.
How reliable is the business environment?
Any arrangements you jointly make with your Turkish partners early on in a business deal is then hewn in stone. If your Turkish colleague says ‘today’, however, then that means ‘perhaps tomorrow’. So it is important to arrive at all agreements in writing and to define the conditions of any cooperation agreement.
How is collaboration structured?
Neither the approach ‘every second counts’, nor an attitude of ‘it’s only business, after all’ will get you anywhere here, usually. Your results depend almost entirely on your market network. Turks prefer to do business with people who they know, respect and trust.
This attitude also provides an additional plus point of doing business here, which is that Turkish partners tend to concentrate on long-term collaboration instead of on short-term profits.
What rules do you have to follow?
Business in Turkey is conducted in accordance with the same rules as it is all over the east – slowly, and thoroughly. There’s one unique characteristic concerning the speed of payment, however, which is untypically fast compared to other European countries. Forwarders in this market generally demand rapid payment, or a cash advance.
Does proximity to the EU influence trade?
The Turkish government is continuously introducing new rules and regulations and laws to harmonise the economy and the legal structure with the European code of law. Regulatory adjustments are the order of the day. At Asstra we have to keep a close watch and make sure we know exactly what is expected of us.
Have the USA’s sanctions had a concrete impact on Asstra’s business in Turkey?
The lira has been devalued several times since the beginning of this year, and inflation has risen by approximately 15%. Turkish companies are struggling with payment defaults, partially because it has become difficult to service debts in foreign currencies, on account of the lira’s fall in value. This isn’t only a result of increased US tariffs on aluminium and steel imports, however, but also down to an overheated domestic economy, on account of a loan boom. Imports have become more expensive, and freight rates for exports have risen significantly.