The world’s largest refugee population has had a positive impact on Turkish output, economists and government officials say. It may be partly responsible for an unexpected rise in third-quarter growth and stronger forecasts for 2016 output.
The migrants, fleeing a civil that has raged for five years, have bought goods such as refrigerators and cookers, a well as cooking oil, bread, flour and building materials.
While most Syrians have not been given work permits and end up working illegally, the money they spend nevertheless feeds into the economy . The government also says it has spent almost $10 billion since the start of the conflict, mostly on refugee camps, pumping more cash into goods and services.
Much of the public debate in Turkey about the economic effects of the influx has so far centred on negative aspects such as how it has increased competition for low-paid work in a country with a jobless rate of over 10 percent, and driven up food prices and rents.
Signs that refugees are beginning to boost growth, potentially creating jobs in the long term, would be welcome news for a government struggling to integrate the migrants and seeking to make good on promises to stem their flow to Europe in return for cash and a revival of EU accession talks.
“We have reasonable facts and evidence that either spending by 2.6 million Syrian refugees or by government has been one of the key drivers behind the positive surprise in economic growth in 2015,” said Muammer Komurcuoglu, an economist at Is Investment.
A senior economy official also told Reuters the Syrian refugees were supporting growth via consumer spending.
The government is due to release its official 2015 growth figures in March. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek has referred to third-quarter growth figures of...