Turkish Thoughts on Iran's Auto Future

Turkish Thoughts on Iran's Auto FutureTurkish Thoughts on Iran's Auto Future

This week a visiting Turkish delegation of auto part makers held meetings with their Iranian counterparts and major carmakers in Tehran, discussing future cooperation along with possible joint ventures.

During their three-day stay, Financial Tribune spoke with Serku Tetik, a board member of the Turkish Automotive Industry Exporters Association, on the future of bilateral cooperation.  

Tetik, a veteran industrialist, said, "I came to Iran in 2002 to begin cooperation with Iranian companies, along with our Industries minister and visited Saipa and Iran Khodro."

The industrialist said he sees huge potential in the Iranian automotive industry over the next decade. However, he added that during the years following their initial outreach to the Iranian industrial sector, his group struggled to continue their cooperation, as sanctions were placed on the companies doing trade with the Iranian automotive sector.

Tetik added that he has been focusing on the Russian market, as it is geographically and technically similar to Iran's. He said that during his time in the Russian Federation, he noted that between the three countries "a new economic triangle" could be achieved to increase cooperation with the respective sectors.

"What I see is the potential of the Iranian automotive industry to be like Turkey in 20 years or may be earlier if sanctions move away. Turkey spent 50 years developing their industries."

Tetik then noted that sanctions have significantly affected his business over the past few years. Renault also got hit as it could no longer send parts to the Islamic Republic.

"We had a 6,000 square meter area dedicated to Iran in our joint warehouse," he said. "Over 150 Turkish workers were laid off as a consequence of the sanctions placed on the Iranian car industry."

Up till now, no Turkish firm has resumed exports to the Iranian market, he added, but he hoped they could create some "synergy" between the two countries.

He also suggested that Russian, Turkish and Iranian companies can create joint ventures.

"Iranians can take their money to Russia and work with them; Turkey can do the same with Iran. My company has already spent €150 million in Russia's Tatarstan."

Asked about investing in Iran, considering the possible easing of sanctions, the businessman said that during the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency, things became difficult, with his group having to break off relations with one of Iran Khodro's holding companies. "But the prospect of starting again is good."

Tetik finished his interview with, "What is clear is that we can easily create win-win solutions to our current problems in trade; what I've done in Russia I can repeat with the Iranian market."