â€œIn Turkey, marble and other natural stone sectors have seen major development in the last decade,â€ said Ali Kahyaoglu, chairman of the Istanbul Mineral Exporters' Association. â€œTurkey has had a place as one of the most important marble and natural stone production centers of the world, with rich marble reserves and an improving marble processing industry. In particular, investments made by large companies and modern production techniques accelerated this development.â€
Turkish stone producers are targeting American consumers more than ever, Kahyaoglu said, citing the vast untapped potential within the marketplace. â€œThe U.S. is economically one of the strongest countries of the world, [yet] has very little natural stone consumption per person,â€ he said. â€œOur goal is to increase our exports and add as much value as we possibly can to our economy. We, as Turkish companies, will take part in such organizations to be able to promote and advertise our products, and as the Istanbul Mineral and Metals Association (IMMIB), we will make our sector very well known in the world -- with other events and organizations -- and increase our exports to the desired levels altogether.â€
Specific growth totals of Turkish stone production were highlighted by M. Mutli Oktem, the secretary general of the Istanbul Mineral and Metals Exporters' Association. â€œIn 2003, our total exports of natural stone were $430.7 million in value and 2,197,500 tons in volume. Our exports to the U.S. were $141 million in value and 259,831 in volume,â€ he said. â€œIf we look at the figures of 1988, the total value of natural stone exports from Turkey was $24.8 million. This significant increase shows us the value of attending fairs and expositions like this. Our target is to export to new markets while keeping the existing ones to increase our export figures.â€
The Turkish stone village saw brisk activity during Coverings 2004, and it reported positive results at the event. This type of presence is also planned at future stone-related events. â€œIn our opinion, to attend similar fairs in target countries will help to expand our export market and affect our export volume positively,â€ Oktem said.
For more information, visit www.turkishstones.org.