The lira’s collapse since the end of last year was briefly mitigated by the government's exchange rate measures at the beginning of the year, but has since returned to falling significantly as the lira continues to be sold off, mainly due to the implementation of the United States inflationary measures by raising interest rates. The impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and high resource prices has made Turkey accelerated significant inflation, with consumer prices rising to 70.0% year-on-year. For example, there was an across-the-board 40% increase on 9 April for major transportation services such as subways, buses, and taxis in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey. So, a fare of 200 yen rose to 280 yen, which has had a significant impact on people's lives.
While central banks around the world are taking preventive measures by raising interest rates in response to global inflation, in Turkey, political intervention by President Erdoğan has led to a policy of interest rate cuts, which has resulted in significant inflation and continued depreciation of the lira. Public discontent is growing, and the President's approval rating is declining. There is a strong possibility that the opposition coalition will win the presidential elections scheduled for June 2023, possibly replacing Erdoğan's nearly 20-year-long government. If the opposition wins, constitutional reforms are also likely to proceed, accelerating moves to reduce the powers of the previously powerful president and a return to the previous parliamentary system.
In addition, Turkey is also going through a period of political and economic upheaval, with a significant drop in the tourism sector, a key industry, due to the impact of COVID-19 and the spill-over effects of the war between neighbouring Russia and the Ukraine. How are the staff working at the MOL Turkish subsidiary dealing with the current situation? And how are they going to build future business opportunities? We interviewed Mr. Satoshi Katada, the country representative of Turkey, and Mr. Yosuke Yamada, a senior staff member in charge of Turkey in the Corporate Marketing Division at the Tokyo Head Office.
ーーFirst of all, please tell us about your current specific efforts in Turkey.
I think our job here is to help the people of Turkey to get to know MOL and for MOL to get to know about Tukey and find, invest, and grow new businesses in Turkey. I am not only in charge of Turkey, but also in charge of countries along the eastern Mediterranean coast (Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, and Jordan) and the Black Sea coastal countries (Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia). I am involved in all aspects of our operations, defying divisional boundaries.
Five years have already passed since I was first stationed here, and I feel that I have been able to promote ourselves and build a network with local companies, and through being in touch from local companies or face-to-face meetings grow our presence. However, we must continue to make our presence known in such a way that people immediately think of the MOL Group when searching for logistical solutions and we must further strengthen our relationships with customers, partners, and government agencies to expand our business activities. The information drawn from such relationships is invaluable, if we are to provide appealing proposals. We are working to build these relationships to develop businesses that are closely tied to local industries and communities, and to create a structure that will generate profits in the region while increasing the attractiveness of our company.
MOL Turkey office: Total of 7 employees, including representative and local staff.
ーーWhat are some of the achievements you have already reached?
ーーWhat is Turkey's industrial role in the world?
(Turkey’s imports volume by product in 2020）
(Turkey’s trade volume by country in 2020 (Top: Imports, Bottom: Exports )
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs HP: JETRO | Japan External Trade Organization
ーーIn such an environment, how will MOL structure its business in the future?
ーーAs inflation accelerates, there are reported concerns about political instability. Is there a significant political influence on business?
ーーTurkish cuisine is considered one of the "world's three great cuisines" along with Chinese and French cuisine as its court cuisine developed to serve dynasties and emperors over the centuries. How is your diet?
Traditional Turkish appetizer, choose your favourite as the chef will show you many small plates. Be careful not to eat too much and become overfull.
A kebab from the Manisa region. It has unsweetened yogurt sauce and bread underneath, which goes very well with the tomatoes and meat juice.
ーーWe hear that tourism, a major industry, is suffering a severe decline.
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ーーWhat are the challenges and prospects for the future in Turkey?
Employees of MOL TURKEY (Mr. Katada: centre, Mr. Yamada: first from right)
MOL Turkey Office
Left: Picture of the FSRU operating in Turkey and the safe operation talisman are displayed.
Right: Views of Istanbul from the office
Satoshi Katada joined MOL in 1988 and has been working in Istanbul as the representative of Turkey since 2017. He is truly a man of a hundred battles, having experienced various sales activities and the setting up and running of facilities in Asia, China, India, and the Middle East, overcoming all kinds of difficulties along the way. He continues to take a tough approach to new business, with the belief that all difficulties can be overcome.
Global Sales Team, Corporate Marketing Div.
Yosuke Yamada joined MOL in 2010. Based on his experience in the administration and energy transport divisions, he has been in charge of supporting the Country Representative of Turkey, Mr. Katada, in the Corporate Marketing Division since April 2021. As a key person in helping to realize the beliefs and ambitions of Mr. Katada, the representative of Turkey, he frequently travels to Turkey to advance projects. Any free time he has is spent searching for the best lokanta (restaurant) in Turkey.