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“Regional Competitiveness” Discussed during TEPAV's Annual Governance Symposium The 6th Annual Regional Development and Governance Symposium was held in Ankara.
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02/12/2011 - Viewed 2374 times


ANKARA – TEPAV hosted its sixth annual Regional Development and Governance Symposia on Friday, December 2, 2011, with the theme “regional competitiveness and governance.”

Delivering the opening speech of the symposium held at TEPAV, Governance Studies Director Emin Dedeoğlu stressed that it was important to discuss competitiveness in the current period in which the world economy was obscured by grey clouds. He said, “We believe that the concept of competitiveness is also of critical importance for Turkey, which recently has initiated regional development policy efforts.”

Following the opening session of the symposium attended by representatives from local and central public institutions, the private sector and civil society organizations as well as members of the national and international academia, two sessions were held with the themes “Rethinking Regional Competitiveness” and “Governance of Regional Competitiveness.” During the sessions, roundtable discussions followed keynote speeches.

“Related variety is important”

Delivering a speech during the first session, which was moderated by Prof. Dr. Ayda Eraydın of Middle East Technical University, Prof. Ron Boschma of the Utrecht University Department of Economic Geography stressed that there was no replicable model for regional competitiveness while studies conducted in different countries had revealed that industrial branching and variety made a positive contribution to regional growth. Emphasizing the importance of technological relatedness between businesses and industries, he maintained that following these relations would facilitate the identification of sectors that should be developed.

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Talking on the influences of economic creativity, Prof. Dr. Neşe Kumral of the Ece University Department of Economics shared with the audience a study about the correlation between competitiveness and life quality.

“Liberals have changed the system in England.”

The first keynote speaker of the afternoon session moderated by Kumral was Prof. Andrew Pike of the Newcastle University Center for Urban and Regional Development Studies, England. Informing the audience about the regional development and competitiveness policies England had implemented, Pike stressed that development agencies that originally had opened in the least developed regions had recently spread to many regions, including London, upon the policies of the Labour Party. The coalition government that assumed power in 2010 dismantled this new regional policy and shifted the focus to localism and local growth. He said that in England, development agencies had been replaced by a structure composed of thirty-eight local enterprise cooperation centers.

Serkan Valandova, Head of the EU Regional Development Programs Department at the Ministry of Development, Directorate General for Regional Development, drew attention to the capacity improvements across development agencies which had been invited by the central government to contribute to the process. He said, “This year we received rational demands from regional development agencies arguing that there were stable or shrinking sectors that should be supported. Though these were sometimes politically difficult to defend, we submitted the proposals to the Ministry of Economy.”

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TEPAV proposed a new approach

Proposing a new approach, TEPAV Research Associate Dr. Tunga Köroğlu said that they were addressing regional competitiveness in the context of regional development and cooperation. He said, “We are defining an approach tailored for competition in not domestic but global markets.” He maintained that the approach took departure from the model developed by Prof. Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard University. He also stated that they had been carrying out studies to support regional diversity and identify sophisticated products.

The symposium ended after assessments by Ahmet Yaman, the Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Development, and Prof. Dr. İlhan Tekeli of the Middle East Technical University Department of City and Regional Planning.

Yaman stressed that new regional development administrations would specialize in public investments while regional development agencies would remain the fundamental organizations in the field, and added, “In the upper scale, new regional development administrations will in a way try to maintain a certain level of structural capacity on the basis of regional plans that focus with a traditional approach on previous public investments and public interventions.”

Underlining that regional development agencies would continue to conduct analyses in this field, he maintained that administrations were expected to act as an “interface” to carry out implementation and coordination processes.

“Do we want rapid development or equal development?”

Tekeli said, “The world is in a rush for innovation and development. Who asked if we wanted this or not? Was this a democratic choice? We have been set adrift with a fait accompli. The people of the world must be asked whether they want rapid development or equal development. Who will pay the social losses faced as a result of this rapid development?”


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