Ford Motor Company and its Turkish partner inaugurated a new plant in northwestern Turkey on Friday, April 20, expressing optimism that Turkey would overcome its economic crisis.
The plant, in the town of Golcuk, is planned as a global manufacturing center for light commercial vehicles.
Ford said in a statement its $650-million investment in the joint venture between Ford and top Turkish business group Koc, represented the largest ever investment in Turkey's automotive sector.
"The plant will manufacture multi-purpose light commercial vehicles, to be produced only in Turkey and sold on the world market, particularly in western Europe beginning from the first quarter of 2002," the statement added.
It described the facility as an example of state-of-the-art technology.
Once the factory, built on an area of 1,600,000 square meters, starts to operate at full capacity, it will manufacture 150,000 vehicles a year.
It will also provide jobs for 2,500 people in a region devastated by two massive earthquakes in 1999.
The plant's opening comes at a time when a bruising economic crisis has badly damaged Turkey's international credibility.
Ford chief executive Jacques Nasser expressed optimism that Turkey had the potential to overcome its financial woes.
"We chose Turkey because it will become one of the important sectors of the globalized automotive sector... In its long-term investments Ford takes risk," Nasser said at the inauguration ceremony, Anatolia news agency reported.
"We have trust in the Turkish market. This investment will boost (foreign) confidence in the Turkish economy," he added.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz also hailed the venture. "Turkey will never disappoint those who trust and invest in it. Global firms who want to export goods to Europe and the Middle East will never be sorry for choosing Turkey as an investment center," Yilmaz said.
"I wish that this splendid plant becomes an example for others and I see it as a model showing the way out of the economic crisis," he added.
Yilmaz successfully battled corruption accusations in parliament last year for misusing power in the free transfer of a state-owned lot for the Ford plant.
Yilmaz, prime minister at the time of the transfer in 1998, argued that allocating free lots to foreign companies was a common practice in developing countries seeking to lure investment from abroad. — (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)