Feature: From pressure to profit -- a Turkish businessman's experience with China's reform, opening-up

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-10 23:25:11|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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ISTANBUL, June 10 (Xinhua) -- For Turkish businessman Murat Kolbasi, China's reform and opening-up policy has brought not only dramatic changes to China itself, but also a huge profit to foreign companies doing business with China -- just like his.

But back in the early 1990s, Kolbasi, chairman of Arzum Electrical Home Appliances, did not think this way, as his company then lost many orders from European buyers who were lured away by cheaper products made in China.

At that time, Kolbasi had deep grievances against the intense pressure from China's competition.

However, Kolbasi's first visit to China in 1992 completely changed his opinion about China, as he discovered that China in fact offered many profitable opportunities.

That was when he decided to start outsourcing production to China, so as to take advantage of the Asian giant's manufacturing prowess.

Based on his experiences, Kolbasi believes that China's success will not just benefit itself, but also the world as a whole.


Founded in 1966, Arzum is a major Turkish maker of electrical home appliances.

Currently, it annually produces 3.5 million of six types of electrical home appliances in 250 categories, 25 percent of which are now manufactured in China. Arzum boasts an annual import of about 30 million U.S. dollars, much of which is from China.

In the early 1990s, the main focus of Arzum's business was on exporting to Europe, but it faced great pressure from Chinese companies, which offered cheaper prices.

After losing many orders to Chinese companies, Kolbasi started comparing the advantages of Chinese products and those produced by his own company. Finally, he decided to outsource the production of some of his items to China as a way to reduce costs.

"We brought our product designs to China to make products with our brands, which gave a real boost to our business," Kolbasi said.

"Looking back, China's economic development doesn't pose a threat to our company. Quite the opposite -- it has elevated our brand and the competitiveness of our products worldwide," he said.

Kolbasi said that Arzum will participate in the first International Import Expo, to be held in Shanghai, China in November, which he said would be a good platform for his company to expand its presence in the Chinese market.

Arzum sells only one model of patented toaster in China, but it now is aspiring to become a world-class brand in electrical home appliances by expanding sales in China, the biggest market in the world.

For example, Arzum is trying to export its coffee-makers to China, a fast-growing market for coffee consumption. With a 20-percent hike, China topped the list of fast-growing markets for coffee consumption in 2017.

"I have long held that, though Arzum is a brand born in Turkey, it has grown up under the care of both Turkey and China," Kolbasi said.

"In the future, Arzum's growth will represent not only the success of a Turkish company, but also of China's economy as well as the Turkey-China economic and trade cooperation," he said.


Over the past 26 years, Kolbasi, now chairman of the Turkey-China Business Council under the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey, has visited China so many times that he even cannot remember the exact number.

Through these visits, Kolbasi has become a witness to the dramatic changes in China. "Every time I visited China, I could feel the change," he said.

Asked to describe his general impression of China's changes over the decades, Kolbasi said they are multi-dimensional, involving policies, public management, industrial structure and even mindset.

During his early visits to China, Kolbasi found that the major means of long-distance transportation in China was riding a double-decker bus. But now, high-speed trains have taken over as the main means of transportation in China, and are faster and more comfortable.

Railways are only an example of China's fast growth in infrastructure, which also includes building sea ports and airports, Kolbasi said.

Among other changes, Kolbasi said that today's China is more than just a world factory, it's increasingly becoming a center of technological innovation with remarkable advantages in industrial designs, technologies and engineering.


With Chinese people's living standard continuously improving, China will offer more opportunities for foreign companies like Arzum, Kolbasi said.

Eyeing China's market, Arzum will invest more in promoting its brand in China instead of the traditional outsourcing of production.

Turkey aims to increase its share of global trade to about 1 percent, but it cannot achieve its goal if it only relies on Europe, which now accounts for 52 percent of Turkish exports, Kolbasi said.

He expected Turkey to export more to China, which continues opening up to the outside world, so as to achieve a more balanced economic development.

Kolbasi praised China for proposing the Belt and Road Initiative, which was put forward in 2013 with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

Kolbasi believes that the initiative is inclusive and that it could greatly benefit the dozens of countries along the routes, including those in the Middle East.

"With the Belt and Road Initiative, I think China is sure to elevate the level of its economic cooperation with the (Middle East) region, thus making a contribution to its stability," he said.

Kolbasi said that he really appreciates the willingness of the Chinese side to resolve differences through dialogue, unlike some other powers, which favor the use of force.

"I pin high hopes on China to expand its influence in the Middle East, because I expect China to succeed," he said.