Dear valued shareholders, partners, and colleagues;
Day by day, we are witnessing that technological developments take place more and more in our lives and increase their impact. Adapting the transformation which is being called as Industry 4.0 in the field of industry, will continue to be one of the priority issues of the forthcoming period. It is not possible for us to understand the 21st century and to meet customer and consumer needs with the rules and conduct of business of the 20th century. For this reason, we need to focus our efforts on bringing the projects accelerating the digital transformation to life instead of fearing from transformation and innovation.
As Kibar Holding, we make significant investments in digitalization in line with the global competition climate and developments in technology. Our aim is not just to talk about the Industry 4.0 but to become a pioneering group adopting the concept and presenting successful examples. I believe that we can achieve our goal by working together in collaboration with our 22 companies and approximately 7500 colleagues. We continue our activities ceaselessly with the awareness that the achievements that we earn will contribute to our country in return.
In 2018, the global agenda was largely affected by economic and political developments. Owing to the additional customs tariffs introduced in the first half of the year and came into effect for the metal industry in the second half of the year, the era of “trade war” started in the world. Due to the impact of the developments felt around whole year and involved Turkey indirectly, meetings were held with respect to the issue in the international platforms for the sake of our country in order to minimize the sufferings that may occur. Thus, in the last days of the previous year, the authorities come together and following their negotiation, announced 90-day trade war truce. The following big-picture prove that the ongoing trade war holds serious consequences for all parties involved. One thing is obvious: there would be no winner in a global trade war.
We will see the positive impacts of Turkey’s performance in the previous year as of 2019 despite all political and economic challenges. The New Economy Program, which was announced by the economy administration, built confidence for the future, while the VAT and SCT reductions on many products including white goods, furniture, automotive, and housing, played an important role in revitalizing the markets. As a result of the measures taken and the projects carried out, our exports reached up to 168.1 billion dollars in 2018 and we achieved the highest export volume in the history of our Republic. Automotive exports increased by 11 percent and ranked first in the exports for the 13th consecutive year.
Despite the contraction experienced in the domestic market last year, the export figures obtained in the automotive industry, which is among the industries with the most employment and added-value for our country, reveal a more positive picture in the market thanks to the steps to be taken this year.
Additionally, the inflation rate for the year ending was 20% and our annual growth rate was 2.6%. With this year’s forecasts, we are expecting to see a low-level increase in growth at the end of the year. We see 2019 as the year of recovery and transformation, and we fulfill our obligations for the development of our country.
With regards to this matter, in 2019, Kibar Group will keep making new investments in some industries as well as generating organic growth and continue to create added value for our country's economy. We are planning to increase our growth and exports abroad as well as in the domestic market with our high technology products. We are considering opportunities such as acquiring companies abroad, initiating international collaborations, and we accomplish our plans within the framework of our vision of becoming a global player. Kibar Group has always been ranked among the leading organizations in our country and has served as a model. Our goal is to use this position in the best way for the benefit of our country while steadily moving towards our goals with determination. We will continue to work as much as possible in order to achieve the highest benefit for our colleagues, customers, and country in the coming period in line with our values including reliability, flexibility, innovativeness, and collaborating with customers and suppliers.
I would like to thank our valued customers, suppliers, business partners, managers, and colleagues who accompany us on this journey and express my gratitude to all institutions, organizations, and administrations for their support.