Preparing for trade mission to Turkey

  Several meetings are held to prepare for the Dutch trade mission to Turkey 5-9 November 2012. The Netherlands and Turkey are celebrating 400 years of diplomatic relations with many cultural and economic exchange activities. Trade missions are part of these activities of course, as both countries have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. It is interesting to see how Turkey is presented at different occasions.
Two weeks ago, there was an official government presentation. Turkey is presented as a good partner and a country with excellent business opportunities. Information was given about CSR and the OECD guidelines for multinational entreprises. Many companies were present to tell why they join the trade mission to Turkey: it was an inspiring meeting.
The organizers of the trade mission also introduced us to a masterclass of the independent Turkije Instituut that took place today. The economic analysis shown by one of their specialists was very interesting. He was able to summarize ten years of Turkish economic development in a comprehensive and tangible way: it was intruiging to follow his lecture and helpfull for doing business. Also he gave a clear insight in how the EU becomes slowly by slowly less interesting for Turkey and how Middle Eastern countries become more interesting, which was visible in decreasing and increasing trade figures. However the Dutch-Turkish trade figures are still growing, if I understood well…
Then the director of the Turkije Instituut introduced us to the world of cultural differences when doing international business. She surprised with her view on bribery practices. The theory she follows says that many countries have a pattern of 3 phases for bribery. The 1st phase is when a political party comes to power, like the AK Party in Turkey: they do everything to end bribery and improve things for the people. That is because all the positions where the money is cashed are in the hands of adverse political parties. In the next governing period, they start to put their own people in the right positions and some bribery begins again. In the 3rd period, and the AK party is in its 3rd period, the cashing that comes with bribery fully flourishes. So that is Turkey now and bribery can not be avoided. Her advice to the companies present was amazing: if you don’t want to deal with bribery, don’t go to Turkey, go to Germany where they do comparable things but it is called for example paying for a service contract and it is not paying cash money to private persons who offer service like in Turkey, she said. If you go to Turkey don’t make a problem out of it, just pay, but don’t do it yourself, do it through your local partner, they know how to do it. You can offer the local partner more money for their ‘normal’ services so it won’t show officially.
Boiiiing…. so far the OECD guidelines given 2 weeks ago, that are quite clear about dealing with bribery (see http://www.oecdguidelines.nl/guidelines/combatingbribery/). Also the advice to Dutch companies to actively involve local partners in this and ‘hide behind their back’ is a surprising tactic. Of course bribery is a huge dilemma for companies but this way out is too easy, especially since the Netherlands are 1 of the 44 governments recommending the OECD guidelines: more of an effort is needed to make us dignitary of that position.

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