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Doing Business in Turkey

Please click here to access to the latest Turkey Country Commercial Guide.

Market Overview

  • As the most eastern country in Europe and perhaps the most western country in the Middle East, Turkey presents promising immediate and long-term opportunities for American firms. Turkey’s steady economy, advantageous geographical position, growing middle class, youthful population (average age of 29), and dynamic entrepreneurial class have made this country a growing market for U.S. exporters. Additionally, over 1,000 American firms, across virtually all industry sectors, have directly invested in Turkey. However, like many middle income developing markets, Turkey presents a range of challenges to doing business, including complex and at times turbulent politics, instability in neighboring countries, a complex bureaucracy, onerous terms and conditions in government contracts, a weakened judicial system, and market access barriers across a range of sectors. American firms are encouraged to work closely with the U.S. Mission in Turkey to vet potential projects, find qualified partners, and conduct due diligence.
  • For many decades, the United States and Turkey have enjoyed strong political and military relations. While we do not always agree on every issue, both countries partner closely on a range of regional and international concerns. As a NATO member since 1952, Turkey has supported missions around the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, and other areas. Turkey’s geographic position makes it an important energy and logistics corridor, linking Europe with the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Turkey is a strong ally in the increasingly important fight against the Islamic State (ISIL). Notably, Turkey is providing much assistance with the related humanitarian crisis and has successfully absorbed over 2,000,000 refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries. However, this new guest population is causing some economic and political stress on the nation.
  • Since 2002, Turkey’s economy has averaged 5% growth, raising average GDP per capita from $3,000 to over $9,000 as of 2015. This rapid economic growth is being driven in part by a boom in massive infrastructure projects as seen in the multiple bridge, airport, hospital, highway, railway, energy and shopping mall developments around the country. Turkey’s growth has caused a subsequent increase in energy demand. As a net importer of energy, Turkey has experienced a widening Current Account Deficit that presents a structural impediment to long-term growth. Growth has slowed since 2011, which presents a major challenge for Turkey to meet its ambitious goal of becoming a top ten economy in the world by 2023, the centenary of the founding of the Turkish republic. On the other hand, Turkey’s 4% GDP growth in 2015 outpaced most G-20 countries and was a sign of stability within a tumultuous region. This growth occurred despite the Turkish Lira losing 25% of its value in 2015. Unemployment, especially in Eastern Turkey, remains stubbornly high. In addition, the Turkish Lira has continued to slide against the US Dollar and is now worth 30% less compared to 2013 exchange rates. This presents not only headwinds for exports, but it also reveals a significant liability for the many Turkish firms and individuals with Dollar-denominated debt.
  • Since 2009, the U.S. and Turkish governments have placed increased emphasis on growing two-way trade and investment. The bilateral Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC) is chaired at the Cabinet-level to discuss key areas of strategic economic cooperation. FSECC and other bilateral mechanisms get private sector input through the U.S.-Turkey Business Council, which provides recommendations for increasing trade. In October 2014, the U.S. President’s Export Council, a group of private sector CEOs, visited Turkey with the objectives of identifying export opportunities for US firms and deepening commercial engagement between the two nations.
  • U.S.-Turkish trade peaked at nearly $20 billion in 2011, with a modest retreat to $17.3 billion in 2015. Turkey remains committed to joining the European Union; however this process has been slow and cumbersome. Ongoing U.S.-European Union negotiations to conclude the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are watched closely by Turkey, given its Customs Union with the EU. While a U.S-Turkey Free Trade Agreement is not being considered at this time, the U.S. has committed to keep Turkey informed of TTIP progress through a joint High Level Committee.
  • While all these government efforts are helpful to develop an encouraging environment for business, it is ultimately the private sector that will lead growth in trade and investment. In 2014, Sikorsky announced a major 30-year co-production partnership for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program, worth up to $8 billion over its life cycle. Boeing continues its strategic partnership with Turkish Airlines, which now flies to more countries than any airline in the world. Pratt and Whitney recently opened an engine parts facility in Izmir that will supply the Joint Strike Fighter program, of which Turkey is a partner. General Electric has announced a commitment of $900 million investment in Turkey across several of its business lines. American firms are pursuing energy, aerospace, defense and health care projects throughout the country. Additionally, the US Commercial Service section of Embassy has assisted hundreds of small and medium sized firms in exporting to, and expanding in, the Turkish market. Turkey sends more students to the United States than any other country in Europe, and two-way tourism is vibrant. The active and influential American Business Forum in Turkey (the local AMCHAM) has grown to more than 200 members, with regular interaction with the Turkish Government on ways to grow trade and investment. Turkish companies are increasingly looking at investing in the United States, which is supported through the SelectUSA program.
  • To map out the opportunities and better understand the challenges of doing business in Turkey, American firms, both large and small are encouraged to engage with the U.S. Mission in Turkey for market information, updates on regulatory issues, major projects and business developments. With offices in Adana, Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, we encourage business visitors to meet with our multi-lingual, sectorial-focused business development teams for individualized market consultations. For more information, please visit: http://export.gov/turkey or http://turkey.usembassy.gov.

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Market Challenges

  • The Republic of Turkey is a complex and challenging market requiring adaptability and persistence. U.S. exporters face many of the same challenges that exist in other semi-developed countries, such as instances of inconsistent or contradictory policies, regulations and documentation requirements, lack of transparency in tenders and other procurement decisions, and a time consuming, unpredictable judiciary and legal and regulatory framework.
  • Turkish Government in recent years is giving more importance to local production while conducting government controlled tenders. Careful planning and patience are the keys to success in Turkey. The U.S. Mission in Turkey is here to help U.S. business navigate the Turkish business environment.

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Market Opportunities

  • The Republic of Turkey’s slow but continued movement toward membership in the European Union has created momentum to adopt European business regulations and standards in Turkey, thereby ultimately making it easier to sell and conduct business in this market. Similarly, reforms since 2001 have created a stronger and more stable economy that has attracted foreign investment, which in turn has been followed by needed capital improvements and demand for new products and services.
  • The U.S Commercial Service in Turkey has identified a number of market opportunities, described in the Turkey Country Commercial Guide for U.S. firms and continues to work with companies to enter the Turkish market, expand market share, or jointly enter third country markets.
  • Turkey is considered a commercial hub of the region, and U.S. companies should consider using Turkish partners to access business opportunities throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and even Africa. Turkish partners know these neighboring markets well.

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Market Entry Strategy

  • While there are many significant opportunities for U.S. companies in Turkey, there are also obstacles impeding entrance into the market. Any market entry strategy for Turkey should begin with a thorough understanding of the costs and benefits to doing business in Turkey.
  • Before entering the Turkish market, companies should consider their own resources, previous export or business experience abroad, and long-term business strategy before entering the Turkish market. For many companies, representation in Turkey by Turkish agent, distributor, liaison office or partner will be a key to their success. Although it’s not compulsory, local partners can provide knowledge of the local regulatory framework, language assistance and valuable business contacts. As business develops, companies may open subsidiaries and make further local investments to expand their market share.
  • The U.S. Commercial Service in Turkey has a number of programs and services available to assist American businesses in establishing a presence in this market and developing appropriate contacts. Staffed with experienced Commercial Specialists with many years of industry and sector expertise, the U.S. Commercial Service team in Turkey can tailor your business approach to the right audience, and provide advice on your business strategy in Turkey. To find out more about how the U.S. Commercial Service can assist you in entering this important market, please visit the U.S. Commercial Service Turkey web site at www.export.gov/turkey.
  • To conduct a more thorough search for market research reports on specific industries and sectors in Turkey, please consult the Commerce Department’s Market Intelligence database.

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Related Topics
Find Business Service Providers (BSP)
Country Commercial Guide for Turkey
  • Doing Business in Turkey
  • Political and Economic Environment
  • Selling U.S. Products and Services
  • Leading Sectors for U.S. Export and Investment
  • Trade Regulations, Customs and Standards
  • Investment Climate
  • Trade and Project Financing
  • Business Travel
  • Contacts, Market Research and Trade Events
  • Guide to Our Services
  • Link for the full CCG

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