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Turkey Continues to Emerge as Major Textile Exporter

Turkey’s exports of textiles keep gathering steam, rising 5.2% in March to $771.7 million, according to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM).

Textiles and raw materials accounted for 5.9% of all Turkish exports for March. In February, Turkey’s textile exports jumped an impressive 10.4%, compared to its performance in the same month of 2013. For the whole of 2013, the country’s exports of textiles was worth $8.39 billion, a 7 percent year-on year increase.

In particular, Turkey is establishing a reputation as an up-and-coming producer of denim, breaking into an industry generally dominated by a small handful of colossal companies. Thomas Dislich, director of denim producer Vicunha, said, “We can cite the example of Turkey for being an increasingly influential denim fabric producer,” speaking to fibre2fashion.

The global denim market is poised to continue its vigorous growth, expanding to $56 billion by 2018, according to a report issued by Global Research Inc. While the U.S. has long been the world’s most prolific producer of denim, it has been surpassed by upstarts like China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey.

Marco Lucietti, marketing director of denim fabric producer ISKO, said, “Turkey is for sure making giant steps, mainly thanks to an approach deeply oriented towards innovation and research for quality excellence.”

It hasn’t been easy for Turkey to join the ranks of the most influential denim producers since that global market is particularly competitive. Dislich said, “Commercially speaking, the global modern denim market is dominated by large market-oriented companies. Japanese and Italian denims have become niche items. They have a high value for the artisanship, mystique and savoir-faire.”

Turkey’s textile and apparel industry, however, has faced its share of challenges associated with rapid growth, including tempestuous labor disputes. In August, More than 12,000 Turkish textile workers mobilized in protest over inadequate wages, pouring into the streets. The minimum wage in Turkey is TRY 978.60, or $504.56. However, only an estimated 55 percent of all workers actually make that much. The average gross salary of a garment factory worker is TRY 1,165 or $603 per month. Some say the sector is being drained of qualified workers due to unsustainable wages. The turnover rate may be as high as 37 percent.