Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

TOBB 80th Financial General Assembly held in Ankara

16.05.2024 / Ankara

The 80th Financial General Assembly Meeting of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye (TOBB) was held at TOBB ETÜ.​

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, TOBB Board Members, TOBB Council Presidents and TOBB Delegates attended the General Assembly chaired by Gürsel Baran.

Presentations were made by the Accounts Review Commission, Legislation Commission, Economic Report Review Commission, Petitions Review Commission, European Union Harmonization Commission, Foreign Relations Commission, Tax Commission, Economic Policy Commission and Press and Publications Commission.

In his General Assembly speech, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu drew attention to the activities carried out throughout the year and the issues on the agenda of the business world.

Pointing out that the world is going through an interesting but difficult period, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “While growth is stable across the economies of countries, inflation is declining. In 2023, global growth is estimated at 3.2 percent, up 1 percentage point from 2022. It is expected to be around this level in 2024 and 2025.” Stating that global inflation, which has reached 10 percent, is expected to fall below 7 percent, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said that despite the problems in energy, food and supply chains, most of the world economies have emerged resilient and a general economic recession has been avoided.

- Global developments
Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that despite the slowdown in the Chinese economy, the US economy is the driving force of global growth with its better-than-expected performance:
Growth in the Eurozone, which is of great importance for our exports, is expected to accelerate this year. World goods trade volume declined by 1 percent in 2023. It is estimated to increase by 3 percent in 2024. Despite the improvement in the global economic environment, geopolitical risks, conflicts and trade protectionism are on the rise. In the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Houthi attacks on commercial ships through Yemen prevent ship traffic. Passage through the Suez Canal has halved. Container transportation costs tripled in 6 months. The negative effects of climate change are growing every year. There are fears that this will trigger a much larger wave of global migration. The growing issue of irregular migration is threatening many countries.
Studies show that global temperature rise will cause 38 trillion dollars of economic damage worldwide by 2050. Natural disasters, especially droughts, affect much of the world, especially our country. Even more pessimists claim that if climate change cannot be prevented, we are in the last century of humanity. In this uncertain and risky global environment, Türkiye must be strong and effective both economically and militarily.”
- Election-free period is an opportunity for structural reforms
Hisarcıklıoğlu reminded that Türkiye has completed the general and local elections with a democratic maturity, calmness and peacefulness befitting itself and left this process behind, and said that the next 4-year period without elections is an important opportunity to solve the problems in the economy and to revive the fire of structural reform.
Hisarcıklıoğlu made the following assessments: “The recent steps and statements of Mr. President and the economic administration are also promising. Hopefully, we will successfully leave this difficult process behind. We will build a stronger and more competitive economic structure.
In the period we left behind, we have implemented many projects. Together with you, we have become an institution that breaks new ground. We have achieved digital transformation in Trade Registry transactions. We have sped up transactions that used to take days and weeks to be completed within 2 hours.
We achieved a first in agriculture, the Licensed Warehousing system to our country. Together with our Commodity Exchanges, we ensured its spread throughout the country.
We launched another dream of our community, the Commodity Exchange TÜRİB, and our Commodity Exchanges brought this system to investors through the product market intermediary institutions they established.
Together with our Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, we protected our local values and tastes by registering them with Geographical Indications. For the first time, our products with geographical indications started to be registered before the EU and this number reached 21. The processes of 51 applications, 7 of which are at the announcement stage, are ongoing.
In the last year, we supported domestic production by issuing a record number of 53,000 Industrial Capacity Reports and 15,000 domestic goods certificates.
We facilitated the work of our members in foreign trade and reduced their costs. With MEDOS, the Automation System for Certificates of Origin and Circulation, we made it possible to quickly access the necessary documents electronically.
With our Export Support Offices, we supported our companies to expand abroad in 60 provinces.
By issuing 94,000 TIR Carnets, we undertook an annual guarantee burden of EUR 22 billion. Thanks to the TIR Carnets we guaranteed, our TIRs carrying exports were able to pass through the country’s customs quickly.
Founded by 137 Chambers and Commodity Exchanges in partnership, Customs and Tourism Enterprises (GTI) broke new ground not only in our country but also in the world. We modernized border gates within the framework of the “Build-Operate-Transfer” model and thus reduced logistics costs. We saved our members, we saved our government, we saved our country money.
We were selected by the United Nations as the best public-private sector cooperation project in the world and were cited as an example to other countries. We exported this model abroad. We launched a joint initiative with the Islamic Chamber of Commerce to renew the land customs of Islamic countries.
With the Trade Center we opened in Chicago, we facilitated our members’ access to the US market.
We introduced the Mediation system to our country for the quick and easy resolution of commercial disputes. We have expanded the TOBB UYUM Mediation and Dispute Resolution Center, which we established, throughout the country. We have turned 126 Chambers and Commodity Exchanges into mediation and arbitration centers. We started to provide mediation services for disputes in international trade.”

- Businesses have a say in vocational training

Stating that the Turkish business world had a say in the management of vocational education for the first time, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said that chambers and exchanges undertook the patronage of 129 vocational high schools. “We made them the most preferred schools, thus eliminating the mismatch between vocational high schools and labor demand. We made our young people have a profession. We provided qualified human resources to our companies.” Hisarcıklıoğlu said that they established TOBB Cern Industry Liaison Office, provided examination and certification services in 77 professions in all 81 provinces with TOBB MEYBEM, and pointed out that they continue to guarantee our members with the Credit Guarantee Fund (KGF). Stating that KGF, which was established in 1991, had almost no activity for the first 10 years, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We turned it into one of the largest credit guarantors in the world. It became an institution that provides guarantees for its members. In this way, approximately 700,000 of our members have gained the opportunity for loans with appropriate collateral.”

- Projects that increase entrepreneurship

Noting that the Women and Young Entrepreneurs Councils have achieved a historic success, TOBB President said, “With 15,000 members in 81 provinces of Türkiye, they have become the largest organization in Europe in this field. Our Councils have turned into project factories. They are working hard to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem. They carry out joint projects with the world’s leading companies. They carry out hundreds of activities that encourage entrepreneurship. Every year, they become role models and guide more and more women and young people. They enable them to take part and rise in business life. Our women and young entrepreneur Councils, I sincerely believe that together with you, we will make our country the entrepreneurship center of this region.”

- Success of TOGG

Hisarcklıoğlu said: “At TOBB ETU, we continued to raise the entrepreneurs and leaders of the future. We have become a university that adds value to our country in many fields from the defense industry to high technology, and exports technology and knowledge to the world. We have also broken new ground here. We opened the world’s largest water turbine test design center. Together with Aselsan, we established Türkiye’s first quantum computer laboratory. We launched Türkiye’s first Artificial Intelligence Engineering department, which graduated its first students last year. We also opened TOGG’s Technology Research Center here.

TOGG, which started domestic sales last year, has sold its entire production in its first year, thanks to the high demand. Among the world’s electric vehicle manufacturers, we reached a record sales figure in our first year. Allah willing, we will start exporting next year and fly our flag abroad as well.

Our global activity is not limited to this. Our flag now flies at the summit of the world business organizations. With the power I received from you, we were elected as the President of the World Federation of Chambers by receiving more votes than the total of the other 5 candidates. This success is the Turkish business world, this pride belongs to all of us.”

- Mandatory to comply with twin transformation

Referring to the twin transformation as the most important development awaiting the business world in the medium term, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Twin transformation; that is, digital and green transformation. These are not a choice, but a necessity for all of us. Those who succeed in this will stand out in competition and earn more. Our members can also benefit from the Model Factories established by our Chambers in this regard.

So why is digitalization important? It reduces your operating costs and speeds up transactions. Let me give a simple example. Let’s say you are doing retail sales. As soon as the customer takes the product from the shelf, it will fall out of stock. The wholesaler, producer and transporter will receive demand information instantly. No time will be wasted with signature, approval, confirmation. Your business will run with minimum inventory holding costs.

This means that some of the old professions will disappear, but new ones will come. Half of today’s professions did not exist in the last century. And many of today’s professions will not exist in 2050. Therefore, we must first harmonize our education system with this technological change. We must also adapt the skills of the workforce to the qualifications of the future.

On the other hand, if we want to continue our exports to Europe, we have to implement the green transformation. Otherwise, there will be additional taxes. This will increase our costs and we will lose the market to our competitors. In order for this process to work properly, an Emission Trading System must first be established in our country. We are working with our public administration on this issue and we are conveying our suggestions. From the revenue to be generated from this system, we want sectors to be supported, as is practiced in the European Union. For example, in the maritime sector, we demand that a share be allocated for the green transformation of ships, shipyards and ports.

With TOBB MEYBEM, we offer services for certification needs such as verification. We bring together our sectors that will be most affected with the public sector and determine the road map of the sectors together. Together with our Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, we support and guide SMEs in their transition to a green and circular economy. We support high technology investments with the tech centers we are establishing within TOBB ETÜ. With our Smart SME Platform, we provide digital services to our SMEs. With our Supplier Development Program, we have enabled Anatolian SMEs to become suppliers of national and international companies. Now we will integrate them into global supply chains. We will expand our trade axis with e-commerce and e-export.

Another important issue we are following is the establishment of a new industrial basin on the Central Anatolia-Eastern Mediterranean line. Thus, we can accelerate the urban transformation in Marmara. We can open new areas for high-tech investments in Marmara. We also need to produce industrial land in order to expand OIZs and make new industrial investments. We need to strengthen port and railroad connections with OIZs.

We should use the railroad more actively in exports. In the provinces most affected by the February 6 earthquake, we should prepare special incentives on a district basis. We should declare a special disaster zone and cancel tax and SSI premium debts to the public.

Climate change and drought make agriculture and animal husbandry a strategic sector. Let us open a new page in this field to ensure food security. Let’s rewrite the legislation according to the conditions of today and the future.

Let’s make Türkiye a terminal country here. Let’s store the grain and agricultural production in the Black Sea and Central Asia in the Black Sea basin by establishing Licensed Warehouses and open them to the markets of the countries to our south.Let’s give TÜRİB an international aspect.

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