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Summary and Conclusions



- The Turkish Expansion -

seeking competitive advantages in a global shipping market

 Tuesday 10 March

Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Istanbul - Turkey

Mare Forum Istanbul 2009 - Summary and Conclusions

Take a room full of Turkish shipowners and shipyard owners, add a seasoning of energy companies, diplomats, international shipowners and financiers, shake them up and what do you get?
A very lively and frank debate about where Turkish shipping and shipbuilding is today, and what it is going to do next.

Ably chaired by Mrs Sadan Kaptanoglu, the first Mare Forum in Istanbul, held on Tuesday 10th March at the Ritz Carlton, discussed the place of Turkish shipping and shipbuilding in the world today, and how it could position itself to survive and prosper from the world economic crunch.

There was optimism aplenty, despite gloomy figures on yard cancellations and potential exposure for owners who have ordered internationally. Why? First and foremost, because as Servet Yardimci, president of Yardimci Shipping hammered home, Turkish shipowners are a tough and resilient lot, and they know how to handle tough times. And more tangibly, because Turkey is one of the few countries in the world today that has strong, well capitalised and well regulated banks. They had their crisis eight years ago, and Metin Kalkavan, executive committee chief of Turzon Holding and chairman of the Turkish Chamber of Shipping told the forum that if other countries followed Turkey’s example and nationalised their banks quickly, the world financial crisis would be over sooner.

Esref Cerrahoglou, chairman of the Cerrahgil group, said the banks had money but are stress testing Turkish shipping and they and the government are slow to act. The key to the future will be that the Turkish banks, about six of which have shipping expertise, step forward to provide post delivery finance for Turkish owners. Yavuz Kalkavan, general manager of the Besiktas group, told the conference that his group’s yard was fully booked, his fleet is employed and he would pay for the series of ship on order in Korea, although they are negotiating to change capesize orders into aframaxes. However, he emphasised that it would take a large equity commitment and he also would like to see more Turkish bank support.

The Forum heard from Batu Aksoy, vice chairman of Tucas Petroleum, that Turkey present opportunities in energy transport, and that a new petroleum law will soon open up more ways in which Turkish owners can compete and also help exploration for oil and gas in the Black Sea. He highlighted the need to liberalise Turkey’s energy market in order to promote energy security and removed the dependency on a very limited number of sources.

When it came to shipbuilding, there were numerous interventions but it was Professor Yucel Odabasi who set out a route map for Turkish yards. Key recommendations, welcomed by several yard owners, were for more joint working in work sharing centres, more joint purchasing and for the development of a Turkish National Shipbuilding Standard to ease contracting.

And talking about money, which was done a lot, Professor Oral Erdogan summed it up best, that the state needed to get involved to change the way the banks think and act in order to liberate the gap funding which yards and owners need now.

One other high point was a lunchtime speech by the US Consul General, Sharon Wiener, who emphasised the important role Turkey has to play in world affairs, and also its improved relations with the USA under the new administration. She also confirmed that she was actively working on planning for a visit from President Obama in the near future.

That is a very short word picture of a long and passionate day of debate. The speakers, panellists and papers can be seen at:


Here is what was agreed as the outcome of the day’s debate:


  • Turkey as a whole is stronger and more optimistic than most outsiders think.

  • Turkish banks are strong and well run.

  • Turkey is investing heavily in maritime education and training and there is demand for that from young Turkish people.

  • Turkey is once again recognised by the USA as a key regional power.

  • Other economies should learn from the Turkish experience and nationalise their weak banks quickly.

  • The weaker Turkish lira is welcomed by the shipping and shipbuilding sector.

  • Turkish owners are resilient, well diversified and will come through the crisis.

    What has to be done:

  • Turkey needs to liberalise its energy market in order to promote energy security. There is a new petroleum law in front of the government and it needs to be passed quickly.

  • Turkish banks need to provide longer term post delivery finance for ships than they currently do.

  • Yards, owners and financiers involved in Turkey must co-ordinate and synchronise their responses to the crisis.

  •  There are unrealised opportunities in Turkey for LNG imports, energy shipping, ship repair and perhaps also ship recycling.

  • Turkish yards must focus on flexible and tailor made designs and high quality.

  • Turkish yards need to co-operate more on shared work centres and purchasing.

  • Turkish yards need to develop common Turkish Shipbuilding Standards to incorporate in contracts.

  • Turkish yards need the government to act as a catalyst for this co-operation and modernisation.

  • Better regulation and education will cut the accident rate in Turkish shipyards.

  • Turkeys must maintain its current focus and investment in maritime training and not cut back because of a short term crisis.

  • Turkish owners need the government to act quickly to free up Turkish bank finance for them or to set up a Credit Trust Fund to cushion them during the crisis.

  • Owners and yards want government help but do not seek a net subsidy. They simply want the same support given to owners and yards in competing countries.

The overall message was, “We’ve got the assets, we’ve got the people, we’ve got the knowledge, we’ve got the money and we are in the right place – now we need a little help to get everything pulling together in the right direction and we’ll come out of the crisis as a strong nation with good resources and ready to be a key part of the world’s largest trading bloc.”




“Turkey and the World of Energy, Realities of Today and Future Developments”
Batu Aksoy
Executive Board Member, Petform
Vice Chairman, Turcas Petroleum

“The World Economy and Shipping–trade forecasts and shipping capacity growth”
Ralph Leszczynski
Head of Research
Banchero Costa – China

“Turkey Shipbuilding Today, Tomorrow”
Didier Chaléat
SVP Bureau Veritas
Managing Director Marine Division
Session Chairman

“Turning the Crisis into Opportunity”
Maurizio Nigito
Regional Manager Europe

“Turkish Shipbuilding - Some thoughts on potential areas for Improvements”
Prof.dr Yucel Odabasi
Istanbul Techinacal Univertsity,
Naval Architecture

“The Turkish Maritime Cluster in Motion”
Roberto Giorgi
CEO, V.Ships

“Flag Choice: Factors to Consider when Choosing an International Flag”
Theo Xenakoudis
Managing Director International Registries, Piraeus

“Capital Providers”
Bote de Vries
Managing Director, Finamar






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