Facts & statistics
Turkey is situated on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, and a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.
The Capital: AnkaraMain Cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Gaziantep, AdanaPopulation: 75 millionSize: 783,562 square km (302,535 square miles)Major Religion: IslamMain Language: TurkishClimate: Various, seven distinct geographic weather and climatic regions.Life Expectancy: 75
Main economic indicators
National Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
Exchange Rate on June 07, 2018 1 TRY = 0.2188 USD, 1 USD = 4.5701 TRY 1 TRY = 0.1856 EUR, 1 EUR = 5.3886 TRY
GDP (billions USD) 905.72
GDP per Capita (USD) 11,125
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 10.7
Inflation Rate (%) 9.3
Turkey is one of the important economies, commercial center of Southeastern Europe, Middle East and Eurasia and a diplomatic country in the region due to the diversified economy, integration with European markets, dynamic and young workforce, crisis experienced businessmen.
Main export items are Automotive, machinery, iron and steel, textile and clothing whereas oil and natural gas, machinery, automotive, and chemicals are the major import items. Main countries that Turkey export the mentioned items are Germany, Iraq, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, and France and it imports from Russia, China, Germany, Italy, and the United States.
Why to do business in Turkey
Turkey is a newly industrialized country with an open market. Turkey’s trading partners are Germany, Iraq, UK and Russia. There are several reasons that can motivate foreigners to do business in Turkey:
Turkey is close to Europe (just a two to three hours flight to major European destinations), the Middle East, and the Caucasus. As a bridge between Europe and Asia, Turkey benefits from its location. It also acts as an energy corridor, connecting these two continents.
Turkey offers an accessible, skilled, and cost-effective workforce, providing the fourth largest labor force amongst EU members and accession countries.
The Turkish legal framework offers a level playing field to domestic companies. Foreign ownership is unrestricted, with no pre-entry screening requirements.
Turkish culture has witnessed a lot of changes in the last century. It is considered the only country that consists of every extreme features of Eastern and Western culture. People were not allowed to mix with each other to retain separate ethnic and religious identities within the Ottoman empire in 1923. After the fall of the empire, different approach was accepted which forced all cultures within its borders to blend with each other and the purpose behind this approach was producing one national and cultural identity. However, they ended up creating a culture with various shades due to the clash between traditional Muslim cultures of Anatolia with the cosmopolitan modernity of Istanbul.
Since Islam is a predominant religion in Turkey, it plays a major role in people’s everyday lives and eventually it also influences their values and ideals. There a few things that are considered inappropriate and should be avoided when communicating with Turkish people:
Family is sacred and that is the reason it ought to be respected.
Turkey to have very little interpersonal space and not something to be apprehensive about.
Starting a conversation about business right away without getting to know your partner first should be avoided.
Imposing a deadline
Disrespect for cultural values and adopting an authoritarian attitude.
Discussion sensitive historical issues, such as the Armenian issue or the division of Cyprus.
Certain gestures and body language have different rude or insulting meanings, such that the following should be avoided:
Standing with your hands on your hips or in your pockets.
Pointing at someone with your finger.
Showing the soles of your feet.
Making the “OK'” sign with your hand.
8 tips to do business in Turkey
As most businesses in Turkey are hierarchical the decision-making process can be slow and it is important to be patient during this period.
The key to doing successful business is relationship-building in Turkey, therefore a great deal of time and effort should be devoted to initial relationship-building opportunities.
English language levels in Turkey are extremely patchy and it is a good idea to check in advance if a translator is needed to help you in meeting situations.
Extensive amount of emotion and body language gestures are considered as a sign of engagement and interest in Turkey so do not misinterpret them in negotiations.
Titles such as doctor or professor are often used and their usage is seen as a sign of respect for the person you are dealing with.
If English is used as the main language in the meeting it is important that you speak clearly and slowly and avoid using complex vocabulary or sentence structures.
Since Islam is the main religion, Islamic sensitivities and traditions should be respected.
Turks are skillful negotiators and will not expect that the first price offered will be the price at the end of a series of negotiations. Therefore, it is critical to build in some level of price flexibility to your offer.
Generally, Turkish businessmen’s dress code is like the accepted mode of dress in Western Europe – a suit, shirt and a tie, and for women it is either a suit, dress or a skirt combination. In hot summer days, it is acceptable for men wearing trousers, shirt and a tie and for women light summer clothing is suffice.
• On initial meetings a good, firm handshake is the norm.
• Men may occasionally also hold your arm with their left hand as a sign of warmness. You may find once the relationship warms up that you are kissed on the cheek.
• In the business context most women will shake hands with men. However, this may not be the case in eastern or rural Turkey where people are more conservative. If unsure, wait for the woman to extend her hand.
Don’t offer gifts that are too luxurious or personal and be sure to check that your Turkish counterparts drink before giving alcohol as a gift. The exchanging of gifts is not a predominant feature of Turkish business culture.
Appointments are necessary and should be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance, preferably by telephone.
It is not recommended to schedule appointments during July or August because it is vacation time for many Turks.
It is also not a good idea to schedule meetings during Ramazan (Ramadan).
Punctuality is expected although you should be prepared to be kept waiting.
First appointments are more social- than business-oriented since Turks prefer to do business with people they know.
Have all printed material available in both English and Turkish.
Presentations should be well thought-out, thorough, and backed up with visual aids such as maps, chart and graphs.
Initial meetings should always concentrate on relationship-building. Engage in some conversation to establish rapport. The Turks are proud of their country and will enjoy answering questions on their culture, history and food, although it is advisable to avoid discussing politics. Most Turkish men love football and usually support one of the three Istanbul teams: Galatasaray, Besiktas (pronounced Beshiktash) or Fenerbahche.Asking after their team’s recent fortunes will always produce lively and animated responses
Food lovers will be glad to know that dining in restaurants is part-and-parcel of Turkish business culture. You will inevitably be invited to dine out and it would be impolite not to accept. The protocol of Turkish hospitality dictates that the host always pays for the meal. The concept of sharing a bill is alien. You may offer to pay, which will be seen as polite, but it is unlikely you will be allowed to do so. The best policy is to graciously thank the host and then a few days later invite them to dinner at a restaurant of your choice. If you do so it may be a good idea to have a quiet word with the restaurant manager to inform them that under no circumstances are they to accept payment from your guests.
Although the majority of Turks are Muslims, not all abstain from drinking alcohol. However, it is wise to wait and see if your host or guest orders any alcoholic drinks before you do so, as it may be uncomfortable for them to sit at a table with alcohol or to pay for it.