EUROPE lies at a crossroads, as the sovereign debt crisis continues to fuel uncertainty about its prospects. But as the eastern international gateway into Europe, Turkey has been relatively untouched by the crisis and continues to perform well given the tough economic environment.
The OECD estimates that Turkey will be the third fastest-growing country in the world by 2017, before surpassing India to become number two behind China. Combined with the youngest and fastest-growing population in Europe, such economic vibrancy leaves Turkey well-placed to play an increasingly prominent role in the global marketplace.
Having just returned from a business visit to Istanbul and Ankara, it is clear that this rapid development presents considerable scope for closer partnership between Turkey and the UK. Infrastructure is one area where the City’s expertise in delivering major projects across the full lifecycle could be utilised. Turkey’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games offers an opportunity to leverage our expertise from London 2012. Over $50bn (£32bn) of infrastructure investment is required by Vision 2023 for highways, energy, airports and ports.
When it comes to ports and maritime services the City is a world leader. There was considerable interest, in particular, in the services offered by key maritime institutions including the Baltic Exchange and Lloyds of London at a Port Finance International Black Sea in Istanbul.
Another opportunity for partnership is the City’s practical support for the development of Istanbul as a financial centre. An exciting development here is the Istanbul Stock Exchange’s increasingly prominent role on a regional level as part of the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges. Enhanced collaboration between the broad range of exchanges in this grouping could increase potential for partnership between the Bourse Istanbul and the London Stock Exchange.
We view this relationship very much as one of sharing skills and experiences to generate jobs and prosperity for both countries. Turkey and the UK share a great history, going back 500 years, but also, as I hope this visit showed, a great future.
As the Budget coverage starts to subside, two lesser-reported pieces of good news to emerge from the Red Book were incentives for social investment and increased support for the creative industries.
This latter sector has a key role in driving the economy forwards – as the recent Sustainable City Awards demonstrated. The green carpet was rolled out at Mansion House last week to recognise how new products and services are being pioneered. Eco-fashion ambassador Livia Firth and the British Fashion Council crowned Marks and Spencer and Fair Trade milliners Pachacuti winners of the new fashion category – recognising environmentally-friendly methods and procurement in an ethical supply chain. A wide range of winners across other categories were also recognised at a great evening.
Roger Gifford is lord mayor of the City of London.