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This article appeared in the Dunya newspaper on 4 September 2008. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

Sönmez Filament suspends production

Tevfik GÜNGÖR

In terms of capacity, Turkey is the world’s eighth largest manufacturer of synthetic yarn and fibre.

This means that Turkey has a huge total capacity. This means that the private sector has economically significant investments in this area in Turkey.

In Turkey there are 11 synthetic yarn and fibre plants of economic significance.

Eight of these are in Bursa. The plants in Bursa account for 75% of Turkey’s total synthetic yarn and fibre production.

In the face of developments in world markets and cheap imports into Turkey, at a time when the foreign exchange rate makes export impossible, Sancak Tül, Sifaş and Polylen have already suspended production.

Sönmez Filament, established in Bursa in 1972 and 25.91% of whose capital is publicly traded, has suspended production until 6 October.

It is all down to cheap imports and the impossibility of exporting due to the high exchange rate.

Sönmez Filament's large shareholder Celal Sönmez says, “We have come from being debt free to this situation. The situation is serious.” This is what he says, but does anybody understand what he is saying?

Sönmez Filament is a large industrial entity which accounts for 22-25 million dollars of production annually. Its suspension of production thus cannot be treated lightly.

Celal Sönmez says, “We have no financial debts. We finance our operations with equity capital. We have top notch levels of productivity. Our capacity utilisation rates are high. Our quality is at world levels. We keep up with the competition. But it is impossible for us to compete on price terms at home and abroad. The high exchange rate and cheap dumped imports deprive us of the opportunity to sell in the domestic market. With domestic costs on the rise, it is impossible to bear the losses entailed by exporting for foreign exchange whose value remains steady or even falls.”

With the likes of Sönmez Filament suspending production, Petkim, supplier of raw and semi-finished materials to such plants, is obliged to cut back on production.

What is the end result? The end result is clearly visible in export figures.

Imports have risen by 36.6% in the first seven months of 2008. Raw and semi-finished materials account for 75.8% of these imports. We have paid 95.8 billion dollars in seven months so that Turkey may import raw and semi-finished materials (most of which could be manufactured in Turkey were it not for the difficulties faced by plants like Sönmez Filament).

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton