Turkey candidate to replace technology leaders Europe, Japan - Erdoğan

With its young population, Turkey is one of the biggest candidates to take the place of global leaders in science and technology, Japan and Europe, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday.

Turkey has left behind the worst of its economic woes and despite negative expectations, the country will have closed 2019 with positive growth, Bloomberg quoted Erdoğan as saying at the opening ceremony for technology development zone, Teknopark Istanbul.

"Turkey, with its young population, is a candidate to succeed increasingly aging science and technology giants Europe and Japan,’’ he said. 

Turkey has one of the youngest populations in Europe with median age at 32, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) 2019 figures.  However, unemployment in the country is at its highest point in 15 years, with the 15-24 age group seeing the largest increase in unemployment at 27.4 percent, according to TÜK figures from November. 

Pointing to Turkey’s strong research infrastructure, which includes over 1,200 research and development centres, Erdoğan said, "These centres are home to important companies and entrepreneurs. Every element produced in this system, in which academic and technical knowledge turns into economic value, contributes to our country's long-term goals". 

The Turkish president went on to say there were signs of an increased investment climate in the country, pointing to the automotive and housing market. 

"Confidence in the economy is increasing ... The domestic demand is strengthening," he said.

The Turkish economy is tentatively recovering from a currency crisis in 2018, which caused the lira to lose nearly 30 percent of its value against the dollar. The Turkish government’ drastic responses to the crisis, including measures included directing its banks to withhold liquidity from the London swap market, has driven foreign investment away from the country, endangering its recovery plans. 

The 2018 crisis pushed the economy into recession and sent inflation soaring above 25 percent, prompting aggressive monetary tightening. Even though inflation dropped as low as 9.26 percent in September of last year, the figure rose to 12.15 percent in January.