Lull before the storm - Turkey19 March 2003
America was dismayed that a democratic, parliamentary vote denied their request to station 62,000 US troops on Turkish territory in preparation for attacks on Iraq. Whether Turkish air space will be used is still undecided. Many Turks reflected on the $8 billion worth of trade they lost with Iraq in return for US support during the Gulf War in 1991. All sector exports for Turkey in 2002 were close to $40 billion, so this loss was significant. Small quantities of finished hides and skins were also sourced from Iraq at one time. By not allowing the entry of US troops, Turkey will also forego over $6 million worth of revenue - the $100 entry fee now applicable to US citizens entering Turkey. The Turkish stock market has dropped off sharply and the dollar continues to slide. Ask any leather producer what his feelings are and the reply is: 'We don't know what will happen tomorrow.' Everybody is waiting and most trade is half-hearted. Doubleface producers can at least hope that the situation may be less fraught five months from now, when their business begins in earnest. Those with knowledge of Turkish markets see no easy solution and most believe that the dynamics of Middle East politics and trade will be greatly altered.