Since August 2013 I started as Consul-General in Istanbul. In the coming four years I will regularly write blogs about Turkey; mainly regarding economic subjects, although at times political and social matters will also be discussed. After all Turkey is a socially and politically very dynamic country. My objective is not only to provide information on Turkey, but also to contribute to the economical debate in The Netherlands about Turkey and, where necessary, to help adjusting the image.
The First Encounter
My first encounter with Turkey took place in 1984 on the way by car to my first diplomatic posting (Baghdad). At that time my respect for the Turkish business industry quickly grew, especially when I saw how at big Iraqi infrastructural projects Turkish companies beat French and German companies in tender procedures. Ten years later, in Israel, I noticed many connections between two countries that seem at first sight to be not so obvious partners. Later, during my years in Moscow, I could ascertain that Russia was (and still is) an economically crucial and highly respected southern neighbor of Turkey.
Challenges and Opportunities in the Region
The coming years I will discuss the many possibilities in Turkey but also the challenges we encounter in Turkey. With stories that go beyond macro-economic statistics and instead zoom in on sectors and individual companies, on the role that Turkey can play in the region as well as for the Dutch business industry. “The Anatolian Tigers, R&D, the position of Dutch-Turkish citizens, the middle-income trap, the EU, reforms, transport investments.” In short enough topics to blog about.
Our interests in this country are large, but its opportunities are not fully utilized. We just belong to the first 15 trading partners of Turkey and the Dutch market share is even gradually decreasing. This is a disappointing situation for an internationally oriented country like the Netherlands that should rely on its close ties with new economic powers such as Turkey. Although at times it will be a bumpy road, by 2050, Turkey could be among the four largest economies in Europe and will count 100 million consumers (Goldman Sachs, 2010).
I will indicate now and then where the diplomatic network can be of service to the business industry. We discussed this recently at the first work lunch for the Dutch business industry in Istanbul with the newly appointed ambassador Ron Keller from Ankara. In brief “Use me” was his message, adding that he is virtually open to anything. As Consul-General in Istanbul, this also applies to me.
As a Dutch representative abroad I can not think of a more beautiful and significant place than Istanbul. I would like to share my network, enthusiasm and knowledge with you, as well as the Turkish hospitality that comes so naturally here.
You can also follow me daily on Twitter (@rschuddeboom).