TOBB, TÜSİAD, MÜSİAD, İTO and others… Business associations and organizations in Turkey are steadily increasing in strength. There is no doubt that they have an effect on many political and economic decisions. The increases in the number of these institutions’ members and the size of their budgets are an indication of their strength. But this is not occurring at the same rate in every organization. Statistics show that TOBB remains the leader in terms of the size of its budget. MÜSİAD has grown the fastest over the last four years…
A little while ago, the Turkish business world witnessed an event which has seen only occasionally. Textile employers used their organized influence to secure a reduction in the VAT rate on textile products. After extensive negotiations with the government the rate was reduced from 18 percent to 8 percent. There is no doubt that the chambers and associations which are influential in the business world played a major role in the textile producers’ success. For years the rate of VAT was seen as the textile sector’s biggest problem and it was changed as a result of the textile organizations, particularly TOBB, exerting their influence.
In fact, so far there haven’t been many similar examples in the Turkish business world. Even if protests were made, most of the time it proved impossible to secure a clear solutions. So what has changed? Experts say that one of the reasons in this the rising power of the business chambers and associations. The influence is further enhanced by the fact that they have turnovers of millions of dollars, and thousands -- even millions -- of members.
It is said that that the strength of business chambers and associations is based on three factors. The first is the number of members. A second factor is the number and influence of the corporate members. These first two factors have a direct impact on the third: the budget, which means the monetary strength. It is these three factors which demonstrate the overall influence of the associations. We studied how the 13 most powerful business organizations in Turkey have become more powerful over the last four years. We studied the data related to the budget, individual and corporate members for 2002 and 2006 and we drew up the latest league table for the strongest organizations in the business world.
MÜSİAD leads in terms of growth budget
When one analyses the budgets and numbers of members of all the professional chambers and associations in Turkey in recent years there are 13 rapidly growing organizations which stand out. There are even those whose budgets have grown by over 100 percent over the last four years.
One of these organizations is the Independent Industrialists’ and Businesspersons’ Association (MÜSİAD). In 2002 the association had a budget of YTL 1,257,000. This year its budget is YTL 5,725,000. Over the last four years MÜSİAD has increased its budget by 355 percent and is also one of the leading organizations in terms of the growth in the number of its members. Over the last four years its membership has increased by 21 percent from 2,060 to 2,510. The association have over 8,000 corporate members, with turnover of approximately $35 billion, or 10 percent of Turkey’s Gross National Product, and exports of $7 billion. MÜSİAD represents a specific constituency and is known to be particularly close to the government. The organization is politically influential, a powerful lobbyist and has increased its influence in the business world in recent years.
Its budget has grown, its membership contracted
The Turkish Union of Chambers and Bourses (TOBB) is a very powerful organization with a local network which extends down to county level. There is no doubt that this network means that politicians in particular need the organization’s support. TOBB also has a larger budget than any other business organization in Turkey. In 2002 its budget was YTL 114 million, rising to YTL 250 million in 2006. Yet, despite an increase of by 118 percent in its budget over the last four years the number of its members has fallen, albeit by just 0.25 percent. In 2006 119,700 companies and institutions were members of TOBB, down from 120,000 in 2006.
TOBB Chairman Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu stresses that the TOBB membership includes companies in every sector in Turkey. He says that the fact that it represents such a wide spectrum, and one which no other organization can match, means that governments always have to take the TOBB’s views seriously. He adds: “The size of the constituency has resulted in us developing various mechanisms between the business world and the government and the bureaucracy in order to reflect the views and suggestions of the Turkish business world better. The most important of these is the Coordination Committee to Improve the Investment Environment, which has been working intensely and productively for approximately the last three years. One of the issues which was debated and finalized in this committee was the Direct Foreign Investment Law, which was promulgated in 2004 and made it easier for direct foreign investment to come to Turkey.”
The number of members has increased by 20 percent
The strength of the constituency it represents means that to date the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businesspersons’ Association (TÜSİAD) has been one of the most vocal of Turkish business organizations. Even though both its budget and the number of its members are less than those of TOBB, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO) and the Istanbul Chamber of Industry (İSO), the fact that its members are the most important business figures in Turkey means that TÜSİAD can launch very ambitious initiatives. In the last four years the number of its members has grown by 20 percent from 447 to 539.
The Turkish Young Businesspersons’ Association (TÜGİAD) is comprised of company owners or high level executives with an average age of 35. TÜGİAD Board Chairman Murat Saraylı says that its members have an average annual turnover of $14 billion and that they employ a total of 160,000-180,000 people. The organization represents a constituency which has an important place in the country’s economy accounting for $6 billion in exports and $3 billion in imports.