Turkey - Country Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techniques

Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2021-12-08

Overview

We suggest U.S. firms provide full support (i.e., product literature, technical information, budget and advertising, and promotional materials) to their Turkey-based manufacturer’s representative or agent. Potential government buyers and private-sector importers should receive catalogs and other literature clearly indicating the name and address of the local representatives/distributors.

The importance of personal contact in Turkey cannot be overstated. Regular visits to government and private sector customers demonstrate a dedication to the market, and U.S. companies are encouraged to support their in-country representatives by joining these meetings whenever possible. Each sector has its peculiarities and challenges, which means it is important for U.S. companies to develop customized marketing strategies that are responsive to their sector. Some government customers require extensive briefings, demonstrations, and trial units, while private sector customers are typically driven primarily by cost and efficiency. Some government and military agencies have set guidelines for formal presentations, which require a specific lead time to complete the required procedures. For example, the Ministry of Defense requires companies to apply through its Technical Services Department for official briefings to relevant departments.

Another common and effective practice is to invite the representative/agent to the United States every year for an annual sales strategy meeting.

In larger Turkish cities, international trade promotion events, such as fairs, exhibitions, and seminars, are common methods of sales promotion. These fairs also provide opportunities for U.S. companies to assess and meet existing competition. Event catalogs serve as ‘trade lists’ on specific product categories. Currently, there are about 70 international fair and exhibit organizers in Turkey. CS Turkey promotes attendance by prospective Turkish buyers at major trade shows in the United States and Europe. Sector specialists take Turkish business delegations to trade shows in the United States under the Trade Event Partnership Program and counsel U.S. delegations that attend European, and Middle Eastern trade shows. Likewise, the FAS organizes trade teams to U.S. agriculture and food shows. CS Turkey will continue to coordinate with other U.S. Commercial Service offices and event organizers to facilitate the visits of buyers to these events. The events promoted by CS Turkey are listed on CS Turkey’s website.

While the world is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, CS Turkey recommends that U.S. companies maintain regular contact with their Turkish representatives and clients through virtual platforms as part of an active relationship marketing strategy.

Trade Promotion and Advertising

A variety of trade promotion and advertising channels exist in Turkey, spanning both print and digital. U.S. exporters may benefit from a diversity of advertising channels. In Turkey, TV advertising, digital media, and online ads are very popular. Newspaper and magazine ads can also be effective trade promotion tools for U.S. exporters.

For companies seeking to advertise through newspapers, Hurriyet Daily News, Anadolu Agency, Daily Sabah, and Turkiye Newspaper are the country’s leading English-language daily publications.

Major Turkish-language newspapers include Cumhuriyet, Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Sozcu, and the country’s primary newspaper specializing in commercial/economic issues, Dunya, which has an extensive advertising section. Major weekly or monthly business periodicals include Turkish Time, Para, Ekonomist, Capital, and Fortune Turkey.

Well-known business association publications and sector-specific periodicals include: Ambalaj Dunyasi (packaging), C4 Defence (defense), MetalSan (iron and steel), PetroTurk (energy), and Turkdokum (casting). These publications, too, serve as potential advertising channels.

The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) publishes local trade fairs and shows on its website annually. In addition, CS Turkey’s Business Service Provider directory is designed to help U.S. companies identify professional service providers to assist them in the assessment, completion, and/or financing of an export transaction.

Pricing

Price has traditionally been the most important business consideration, especially in government tenders. Existing public procurement law instructs buyers to procure the product/service with the lowest price and best quality, though per a July 2017 government decree, products produced domestically receive a 15% price advantage. In general, the lowest price wins in public procurement tenders. However, from time to time, life-cycle analysis or best value procurement may be used. Private sector buyers may emphasize quality and overall value, but price remains a major issue. In both public and private sales, creative financing, which reduces upfront cash outlays or extends the terms of payment, can be of great value to Turkish clients.

U.S. firms should consider the recent devaluation of the TL against the USD when making price calculations for their products and services, especially when in competition with local suppliers.

While imports from EFTA countries and bilateral free trade agreement partner countries are exempt from duties, U.S. firms can nevertheless remain competitive by offering financing alternatives to low-cost, credit-hungry Turkish buyers. EXIM Bank, DFC, and USTDA have a variety of financial vehicles to assist U.S. exporters and investors. All imports of goods and services (except food) are subject to 18% value added tax (VAT) over the Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) price. The subject amount is applicable to all, including domestic, companies.

Financing also includes GSM-102 export credit guarantees, which are available for most agricultural products. CS Turkey urges U.S. exporters to utilize letters of credit and other methods to secure transactions when establishing a new relationship with a Turkish importer.

Sales Service / Customer Support

After-sales service and/or customer support can be critical to success in this market. In certain industries, such as machinery and automotive, such offerings can be a competitive advantage for U.S. exporters. U.S. suppliers may want to identify local agents and/or distributors with the necessary service and maintenance capabilities, and depending on the level of business activity, a U.S. firm may also consider establishing an office in Turkey capable of providing after-sales services. In 2014, the Ministry of Customs and Trade issued a directive to regulate the delivery of after-sales services by requiring manufacturers or their importers of certain products to provide after-sales services for a specified amount of time in accordance with their product group. Note that the Ministry of Trade amended the subject directive in February 2020, resulting in a new list of affected products.

Local Professional Services

The Business Service Provider (BSP) Directory is designed to help U.S. companies identify professional service providers to assist them in the assessment, completion, and/or financing of an export transaction in Turkey.

The service providers are selected based on our long-term experience with the types of support that U.S. companies often require when doing business in Turkey. English-speaking attorneys specializing in commercial law, investment legislation, joint ventures, corporate law, tax law, bankruptcy law, public finance, banking corporations, criminal, and civil law are available for consultation with U.S. business representatives.

U.S. companies will also find large U.S. accounting and financial firms operating in Turkey to assist in establishing a presence in the Turkish market.

If you need additional information or assistance in locating service providers in categories not listed, contact CS Turkey directly: Sema Okurer (Sema.Okurer@trade.gov).

The BSP directory is not comprehensive and inclusion does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government or Commercial Service. Limited due diligence is conducted, but we strongly recommend that you perform your own due diligence and background research on any company. We assume no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the providers listed. We also reserve the right not to list a company.

Principal Business Associations

AmCham Turkey (formerly ABFT - American Business Forum in Turkey)

AmCham Turkey is a business association comprised of U.S. companies with operations in Turkey. Founded in 2004 as an American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham acts as a bridge between Turkey and the United States to improve bilateral trade and investment, and to support Turkey’s economic development by strengthening its business environment and stimulating FDI.

AmCham Turkey represents 110+ prominent U.S. member firms with investments over $50 billion having created close to 100,000 jobs in Turkey. Working in partnership with U.S. businesses, foreign investors, and local decision-makers, AmCham endeavors to be a trusted, credible thought leader helping to accelerate improvement in Turkey’s business environment. AmCham Turkey has six committees: Public & Government Affairs, Investment Environment, Sustainability, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Digital Economy, Food & Agriculture.

DEIK - Foreign Economic Relations Board  

Upon its establishment in 1985, the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) was designed to organize and manage the Turkish private sector’s foreign economic relations in the areas of foreign trade, international investments, services, contracting and logistics; analyze investment opportunities at home and abroad; and help boost the country’s exports.

There are 139 bilateral, 5 sector-specific and 2 special purpose business councils operating under DEIK. The council for the United States, The Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAIK), was the first bilateral business council established in Turkey.

TAIK – Turkey-U.S. Business Council  

TAİK, operating under the umbrella of DEİK, was established in 1985 as the first business council in Turkey with the aim of enhancing trade and investment relations between Turkey and the United States. TAIK is the largest of the 146 bilateral business councils operating under DEIK.

TAIK’s mission is to enhance trade and economic relations between Turkey and the United States. TAİK works with U.S. and Turkish companies to bolster their strategic partnerships as well as to promote Turkey’s and the United States’ strengths as a destination for bilateral investment.

TMB - Turkish Contractors Association  

The Turkish Contractors Association (TCA) is an independent, non-profit professional organization based in Ankara. The association was founded in 1952 and represents Turkey’s leading construction companies. Its members’ business makes up nearly 70% of all domestic contracting work and 90% of all international contracting work done by Turkish construction companies. Since the early 1970’s, Turkish contractors have completed over 10,500 projects in 128 countries. Their business volume abroad has reached $421 billion.

In addition to offering contracting services at international standards both within and outside Turkey, most TCA members are also active in various fields ranging from the manufacturing of building materials to investments in the field of energy, tourism, health and transport.

TOBB - The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

TOBB, established in Ankara in 1950, is the highest legal entity in Turkey representing the private sector and the largest non-profit organization in the country, encompassing 365 Chambers and Commodity Exchanges. All companies in Turkey are required to be a member of a Chamber of Commerce or a Chamber of Industry. All Chambers of Commerce and Industry must be members of TOBB. In 2004, TOBB established the TOBB Economics and Technology University, which participates in major social and commercial bodies as well as in some private and government organizations in Turkey.

YASED – International Investors Association  

YASED was established in 1980 as the non-governmental organization representing international companies operating in Turkey. YASED’s mission is to enhance the efficiency and profitability of international companies in Turkey and to encourage foreign investment through improvement of the business and investment environment. It represents companies responsible for approximately 85% of all FDI that has come to Turkey. YASED member companies operate in 30 countries and over 15 sectors. YASED plays a pioneering role in the establishment of sustainable, predictable, and competitive legal regulations and legislation related to Turkey’s business environment. There are 18 working groups focused on different business topics.

TUSIAD - Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association

TUSIAD, established in 1971, is a voluntary business organization of CEOs and executives from major industrial and services companies in Turkey, including Fortune 500 companies. TUSIAD is based in Istanbul and has representatives in Washington D.C., Silicon Valley CA, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, London, Gulf and Beijing.

Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services

Turkey generally follows EU directives concerning standards that document a product’s quality and safety. For example, if a CE Mark is required for a specific product in the Turkish market and the U.S. manufacturer does not have this required certification, that product cannot be imported into Turkey.

The Ministry of Trade has the right to specify products that may not be imported into Turkey. Currently, certain products regulated by “Regulation for Product Safety and Inspection 2021/3,” certain chemicals regulated by “Regulation for Product Safety and Inspection 2021/6,” and certain metal scrap regulated by “Regulation for Product Safety and Inspection 2021/23” cannot be imported into Turkey. In cases where these commodities can be imported, the importer can only be an industrial entity intending to use these materials in its own manufacturing process. To import such products, the importing entity is required to obtain a license from the Ministry of Trade. For products other than those that fall into the groups listed above, there are no sales limitations.

As for professional services, lawyers, notaries, and customs brokers that do not hold Turkish citizenship cannot practice in Turkey. While the same rule applies to dentists, pharmacists, and midwives, foreign doctors and nurses can practice in Turkey if they speak Turkish at the required level, maintain an ability to practice their profession in their home country, and have their university and professional degrees approved by the MoH.

Used or refurbished equipment is regulated by a decree renewed annually. While some products falling under the HS Codes noted in this regulation can only be imported to Turkey with licenses issued by the relevant government agencies, some can be imported with no prior license.

Generally, the importation of used or refurbished equipment is limited to items that will be used by industry to manufacture its own finished products and to sea and air vehicles. There are differing age limitations for each allowed product category.