Clouds gather over Turkish-German economic ties (Al-Monitor, August 1,2017)
SUMMARY Exasperated over Turkey’s disregard for the rule of law and its arrest of German…
The Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (MUSIAD), founded in 1990 as an ally of Turkey’s political Islam movement, has stood behind President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party through the country’s economic turmoil. But recent statements from the group reflect apprehension over rising borrowing costs and the slump of the Turkish lira.
The association, which boasts more than 11,000 members representing some 60,000 enterprises with nearly 1.8 million employees, has displayed full loyalty to Erdogan and enjoyed his auspices in return. Like many other economic actors, the MUSIAD had voiced concerns over the lira’s freefall after the central bank began cutting rates in September despite soaring inflation and called for measures to curb the surge of foreign exchange prices, which, in Turkey’s import-reliant economy, meant increasing costs for entrepreneurs.
The association lent fervent support to the measures Erdogan announced Dec. 20 to prop up the lira, and some of its members even visited shopkeepers to promote the government’s policies. But only a month on, the group appears displeased and concerned that both borrowing costs and foreign exchange prices remain above the desired levels.
Many now wonder whether the MUSIAD’s support for Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will continue even if the group’s expectations of economic stability remain unmet. But given the group’s corporatist relationship with the government, it seems fair to say that MUSIAD members have largely tied their fate to that of Erdogan and their loyalty is unlikely to easily wane.
Addressing MUSIAD leaders in early January, Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati — the third holder of the post since Erdogan assumed sweeping executive powers in July 2018 — hailed MUSIAD members as entrepreneurs who make their profits through “halal ways,” referring to a religious notion of permissible or legitimate acts according to Islam. “Rest assured,” he told his audience, pledging a new era of economic predictability in which “everyone will gain and be able to make [forward-looking] calculations.”