East Looking West

We asked Dr. Thilo Pahl, managing director and board member of the German-Turkish Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK Turkey), headquartered in Istanbul, about relations between the two countries during corona.

April 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has changed many companies’ approach to doing business abroad. What has been the perception of Germany as a business location during these challenging times?

Dr.Thilo Pahl: Without doubt the pandemic has severely affected the global economy, and this development has negatively impacted German-Turkish commercial relations as well. Nonetheless, in our conversations with local business representatives, partners and members, we’ve had some significant, positive experiences. During the first peak of the pandemic, Germany has been the only country in Europe to which Turkish firms could still export their products and services. That was important for German-Turkish relations. There is enormous economic potential in intensifying cooperation between Turkey and Germany. Post-corona, when German companies reevaluate their supply chains, Turkey has a good chance to position itself as a new major supplier. Turkey has a broad and deep industrial foundation and excellent logistics infrastructure – these advantages have proven their worth during the corona pandemic.

Which German sectors are Turkish companies particularly interested in, and why?

Pahl: Companies in the construction industry are particularly interested in investing in Germany. Many Turkish companies are already involved in construction projects in Germany as subcontractors. Many of them would like to enter the German market directly, especially because Turkish companies can provide German firms with qualified specialists.

Overlooking Turkey’s capital city of Ankara sits the imposing mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was the founder of modern Turkey and the republic’s first president. © Paul Biris/Getty Images

What do Turkish companies like most about Germany as an investment location?

Pahl: Germany is very attractive to Turkish companies as an international location because of its central position within the EU market and as a gateway to the markets in central and eastern Europe.

What does the German-Turkish Chamber of Industry and Commerce do to help businesses like these, and what is the relationship between AHK Turkey and Germany Trade & Invest?

Pahl: AHK Turkey identifies companies in Turkey that are interested in expanding to Germany and is the first point of contact. The idea is to offer entrepreneurs a full range of services and support until they have found a location and been handed over to one of the 16 regional German states’ business development agencies. GTAI intensifies the initial AHK Turkey consultation and goes into more depth, helping entrepreneurs to create networks in Germany.

Dr. Thilo Pahl is managing director of AHK Turkey, which was founded in Istanbul in 1994. With over 900 members, it is one of the largest overseas German economic organizations.

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