2017 was a year of recovery for the global economy. With the efforts of our exporters and the support of our government, Turkey has benefited greatly from this recovery. With a strong display of export performance, we proudly exceeded Medium Term Programme (MTP) targets twice in 2017.

The strong and stable performance of our exports in 2017 was reflected in our growth data as well. In 2017, Turkey's GDP has risen by 5.3% in Q1, 5.4% in Q2 and 11.1% in Q3. When we look at the contributions to growth, we see that 2.3 points of the Q1 growth and 1.8 points of the Q2 growth was due to the net exports. Net exports contribution to growth was 0.34 in Q3, however this was caused by the rapid increase in imports. Overall, net exports contributed by 1.45 points to the 7.4% growth in the first nine months of 2017. In other words, 20% of Turkey's growth was thanks to net exports.

This success naturally forced many international organizations to revise their growth estimates for Turkey. The World Bank has raised their forecast for 2017 from 2.7% to 4%, IMF raised their estimate of 2.5% to 5.1% and the OECD revised their estimate from 3.4% to 6.1%. We believe that we will be at the top of the fastest growing countries with a growth rate about 7% in 2017, and we will see a growth rate of 5.5% in 2018.

As Turkish Exporters' Assembly (TİM), we have worked hard for this accomplishment. In 2017, we organized trade delegations to 28 countries; from Africa to the Far East, from Europe to the Middle East. In 2018, we are planning to organize trade delegations to at least 30 countries; including Chile, Senegal, Japan and Ukraine. In addition to this, we will continue to inform our exporters about potential markets with “Export Compass” programs about 10 new countries with a lot more detail.

More on market penetration, we begun opening Turkish Trade Centers (TTC) with Tehran, New York, Chicago and Dubai Trade Centers. In 2018, we will continue opening new TTCs in the UK, Japan and Indonesia. Additionally, we will open two more TTCs in the US; one in Miami and one more in New York. Following these countries, we are planning to open TTCs in Russia, Germany, and Qatar.

Moreover, we continued to invest in R&D and innovation as TİM. 68 of the 692 R&D centers and 19 of 109 design centers operating in Turkey were opened as a result of our R&D and Design Center Consultancy service. 96 more centers are in the final phase of opening. In 2018, we believe that we will come closer to our target of 500 R&D and 500 Design Centers. Furthermore, about 8,000 exporters benefited from the incentives given by the Ministry of Economy and TİM for e-commerce portal premium membership. We are planning to end the year with 10,000 companies and reach 25,000 companies by the end of 2018.

Along with these, we have create a new unit called “Country Desks” in order to meet the information demands of our exporters about the markets and economies of their target countries. We also have a “Sector Desks” unit, which serves our exporters by resolving or collecting and relaying problems regarding their industry to the appropriate ministries.

In addition to these new practices, we are also carrying out our signature events. In 2017, we have improved our events greatly, reaching more companies and more entrepreneurs. We hosted “Brand Turkey” event on 25-26 May with more than 2 thousand guests. “Turkey Export Week 2017” -in which we address all aspects of exports- was held on 1-3 November with about 5 thousand participants.

On 8-12 November, we organized “Design Week Turkey 2017” with 42 thousand participants. And lastly our flagship event, “Turkey Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week 2017”, was held on 6-9 December. This year, we added “Entrepreneurship” to our event by including “Born Global” within the organization. The event was a great success with more than 80 thousand visitors.

In short, the year 2017 was full of success for us. Now we are preparing for the New Year, with excitement and hoping for new records. We believe 2018 will be a year where Turkey continues its strong growth, with fewer risks and higher exports and employment. I wish you a happy New Year with hopes of peace, friendship and solidarity in the whole world.