Mustafa Erol, Chairman of the Board of AIMSAD

According to the data of the Machinery Exporters’ Association (MAİB), Turkey broke a record with exports of 110,112,234 dollars in six woodworking machinery sectors in 2020.

Mustafa Erol, Chairman of the Board of the Woodworking Machinery and Side Industries Businessmen Association (AİMSAD), stated that “One of the biggest reasons for the increase in exports is the own way of marketing of the companies. The companies applied the right strategy by self-evaluations due to reasons such as the absence of fairs and travel restrictions.’’

In 2020, during the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic that affected Turkey as it did all the world, the woodworking machinery industry broke an export record. According to the data from the Machinery Exporters Association (MAİB), the woodworking machinery sector exported 110,112,234 dollars 2020. In 2019, this figure was 98,160,644 dollars, and in 2018 it was 102,510,492. Accordingly, the sector’s exports have achieved the highest growth rate since 2018 with 12%. In accordance with the monthly data of the Turkey Statistics Institute (TSI), the industry’s export is around 20-21 million dollars in November. This situation shows that November had a significant share in the increase in exports.

The top five export countries in November were Russia with 9,550,800 dollars, Iraq with 868,188 dollars, Bulgaria with 559,217 dollars, the United Kingdom with 546,612 dollars, and Algeria with 529,175 dollars. In 2019, Russia was the third most exported country with 3,954,892 dollars. As it can be seen from the mentioned data, the most important reason for the increase in exports is that the amount of exports to Russia in November is much higher than in other months.

Exports to Russia increased 365% in one year
Evaluating that the woodworking machinery industry broke an export record during the pandemic, AIMSAD Chairman Erol said, “Since the 12-month foreign trade data of TSI has not been published yet, I have to answer according to 11-month figures. First of all, the total export to Russia at the end of the 11 months of 2020 is 13.4 million dollars. We see that our exports to Russia increased 365% in 2020 compared to 2019. The ratio of exports worth 9.5 million dollars made only in November to the total exports made for 11 months was 70%. Since 2020, data have not been disclosed in international sources yet, I can say that Russia’s total import of woodworking machines was 300 million dollars at the end of 2019. According to the export figures for the end of 2019, Turkey took a share of about 1%. In 2020, the most exported products at the end of 11 months are machines that perform various machine operations without changing tools with 10 million dollars, saw machines with 1.5 million dollars, and other machines with 890,000 dollars.”

”On the other hand, when the furniture sector reports of the Ministry of Trade are examined, we see that Russia is neither an exporter nor an importer country in terms of furniture. [In] a country with a population of 145 million, I think there is the only production for its own domestic consumption. Also, Russia is one of the largest logging countries. Therefore, the export of logs, which is the most valuable product for the raw material rather than the completed product, plays an important role for Russia in the wood industry,” continued Erol.
Furniture investments increased in the pandemic 
During the pandemic, furniture investments increased not only in Russia but also in many countries.

“Because people spent most of their time in their homes during the pandemic and started using their furniture more. Of course, this caused them to change uncomfortable and non-ergonomic furniture,” said Erol.

Industry firms implemented the right strategy
Reminding that in 2020, despite the pandemic, the Woodtech Fair was held in October by taking all health measures, Erol pointed out that this situation may have an effect on the increase in exports in October and November, but sector companies did not participate in any fairs other than domestic/international Woodtech in 2020. Stating that one of the biggest reasons for the increase in exports is the own way of marketing of the companies, Erol stated that the companies applied a correct strategy by making self-evaluations due to reasons such as the absence of fairs and restrictions on travel.

Record export; the motivation for digitalisation
Noting that AIMSAD could not promote the market in 2020 other than through digital activities, Erol stated that in 2020, they reap the benefit of promotions made in the past. Mentioning the www.turkishwoodworkingmachinery.com portal, which was launched in May 2020, Erol stated that the number of visitors to the portal increased and became known each day. Explaining that they plan to prepare the 2021 member catalogue together with this portal in a hybrid manner as the association, Erol also stated that they will direct the visitors who do not want to carry catalogues to the portal with QR codes and short links. Stating that the pandemic and the export record in 2020 will create a motivation for digitalisation in the sector, Mustafa Erol also indicated that there is a motivation to increase marketing and advertising activities and to complete the processes of branding and institutionalisation.

Some of our members-only work for export
Noting that there are continuous improvements in the woodworking machinery sector as in every sector, Erol continued.

“Today, some of our members only work for export, some of them only make project-based products and have orders for almost six to seven months, and some of them become brands abroad by partnering with foreign companies. We can see that it is coming or has the potential to come. Our country has become not only in the woodworking machinery sector, but also in many industries, not just applying technology, but producing. Therefore, it is possible to say that the sector has kept pace with this trend.”

Erol’s prediction came true
According to Erol’s evaluation in AIMSAD Magazine last year, the industry will close 2020 with 2019 figures despite the pandemic. With the arrival of the winter months, the furniture industry will become active and increase the woodworking machines supply; he expects an increase of 10% to 15% in production and exports in 2021.
Erol pointed out that the pandemic actually served the furniture industry. 

“Because people did a lot of things at home. This has created a supply to spend a lot of time at home. Uncomfortable furniture has been replaced with comfort. I think this situation will increase more all over the world in 2021 and the furniture industry will be more positively affected. For this reason, there will only be a yield in terms of production in woodworking machines. “

“Currently, the ratio of exports to imports has increased. I believe it will increase even more and reach 250%. In winter conditions, people will stay at home and change furniture. One of the most important reasons for closing 2020 in this way is that Turkey is being the only country that performs the machine fair. It helped a lot. It is the reason for the state of export.”