‘Our own China’: a review of Turkey’s industrial and employment strategy documentsMelda Yaman
SEER Journal for Labour and Social Affairs in Eastern Europe, 2016, vol. 19, issue 1, 67-88
Turkey’s export-oriented economy was primarily dependent on low wages and imported capital goods until recently. In the last few years, the result of the competitive pressure of giant manufacturing countries like China and India was that Turkey’s export industries went through a two-dimensional structural transformation: a shift to high-tech production combined with regional restructuring of industry. These processes promise an increase in the competitive power of Turkey’s export industries as well as a solution to the trade deficit problem. Recent industrial and employment strategy documents express the desire to increase labour productivity with the explicit target of ‘transforming Turkey into Europe’s China’. However, the low wage strategy has not been abandoned altogether. In fact, the aim is also to establish Turkey’s own China in the south-east region, in which Kurdish people live, by mobilising a cheap female labour force for textile and garment manufacturing. This article discusses these two dimensions of industrial transformation and their impact on labour.
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