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Turks worry about U.S. biz, SARS impact

Istanbul — Like U.S. vendors, Turkish home textiles suppliers exhibiting last week at the Evteks trade show here said they are concerned about the softness in the U.S. retail market, hopeful for a post-war bounce and watching to see how SARS will ultimately impact the global supply chain.

They also are grappling with some factors unique to their region. For manufacturers that buy their raw materials in Euros, the dollar's decline against that currency is chewing into their margins for U.S.-bound goods. In a double whammy, inflation — up 35 percent in Turkey last year—has raised labor and energy costs, further pressuring margins.

The United States absorbs 21 percent of Turkey's home textiles exports, making it the country's second largest export marketing after Germany, which accounts for 27 percent, according to statistics published by the Turkish Home Textiles Industrialists Association. As several suppliers were quick to note, while a weak dollar makes pricing for the United States more challenging, it's been a boon to European-bound exports.

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