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: 2020-10-07

Overview

When employing a manufacturer’s representative or agent in Turkey, an American firm is advised to provide full support regarding literature, technical information, budget and advertising and promotional materials. 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 to be successful. Some government customers require extensive briefings, demonstrations and trial units, while private sector customers are typically driven by cost and time factors. 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. See the guidelines for formal briefing applications.

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, since most major foreign and local suppliers also participate. 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 counsels U.S. delegations that attend European, and Middle Eastern trade shows. Likewise, the Foreign Agricultural Service (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.

In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when limited travel is expected to continue, 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, which is essential for success in the Turkish Market.

Trade Promotion and Advertising

A variety of trade promotion and advertising channels exist in Turkey, from print to visual ads. U.S. exporters might benefit from various advertising channels according to their marketing strategies. In Turkey, there are dozens of TV channels that can be used for commercial advertising. Additionally, digital media and online ads have become very popular. Newspaper and magazine ads can also be effective trade promotion tools for U.S. exporters.

The leading English language newspapers are the Hurriyet Daily News, Anadolu Agency, Daily Sabah, and Turkiye Newspaper.

Major newspapers in the Turkish language are Cumhuriyet, Dunya, Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah and Sozcu. Among these, the country’s primary newspaper specializing in commercial/economic issues is Dunya. Many companies use Dunya’s sectorial appendix for advertising. Major weekly or monthly business periodicals are Turkish Time, Para, Economist, Capital and Fortune Turkey.

Various business associations and specific sector periodicals such as: Ambalaj Dunyasi (packaging), C4 Defence (defense), Dunya Insaat (construction), Gas & Power (oil and gas/electric power generation and distribution), MetalSan (iron and steel), PetroTurk (oil & LPG), and Turkdokum (casting), serve as potential advertising channels.

Most media links are available at: www.gazeteler.com and www.dergiler.com.

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 there is often, per a July 2017 government decree, a 15% price advantage for products produced domestically. 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 the best value, but price remains a negotiation 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 Turkish lira against the U.S. dollar when making price calculations for their products and services, especially when in competition with local suppliers.

While imports from European Union and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries and countries with bilateral free trade agreements with Turkey are exempt from duties, American firms can still be competitive by offering financing alternatives to low-cost, credit-hungry Turkish buyers. The U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM), U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the U.S. Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) have a variety of financial vehicles to assist U.S. exporters and investors. All imports of goods and services (except food) as well as contracts 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

Proper after-sales service and/or customer support can be critical to success in this market. In certain industries, such as machinery and automotive, service offerings can also 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 capability. Depending on the level of business activity, a U.S. firm may also consider establishing an office in Turkey to provide this type of service. In 2014, the Ministry of Customs and Trade issued a directive to regulate the delivery of after-sales services by manufacturers or importers for a select group of products. According to this regulation, manufacturers or their importers are required to provide after-sales services for this group of products for a certain period as defined for each 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 type of support that U.S. companies usually seek 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/ABFT - American Business Forum in Turkey 

AmCham Turkey/ABFT was established in January 2004 in Istanbul as the Voice of American Business in Turkey.”  AmCham Turkey/ABFT’s primary mission is to act as a bridge between Turkey and the United States to further improve bilateral trade, investment and to support Turkey’s economic development by strengthening the business environment and stimulating FDI. The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey is the Honorary Chair. AmCham Turkey/ABFT has six committees: Public Affairs & Government, Investment Environment, Sustainability, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Digital Economy and Food & Agriculture. As an American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey, AmCham Turkey/ABFT has 110 prominent members, representing an over $50 billion economic contribution and close to 100,000 jobs in Turkey.

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 foreign economic relations of the Turkish private sector, in particular with respect to foreign trade, international investments, services, contracting and logistics; to analyze investment opportunities at home and abroad; and to help boost the country’s exports as well as coordinate similar business development activities.

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 American 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 the leading construction companies in Turkey. Its members’ business makes up nearly 70% of all domestic and 90% of all international contracting work done by Turkish construction companies. Since the early 1970’s, Turkish contractors have completed over 10,000 projects in 126 countries. Their business volume abroad has reached $402 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 1950 in Ankara, 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 the level of attraction of the country for investors by contributing to the improvement of the business and investment environment. It represents approximately 85% of all FDI that has come to Turkey since 2000. YASED member companies operate in 25 countries and over 15 sectors. YASED plays a pioneering role in the establishment of sustainable, predictable and competitive legal regulations and legislations in international standards. There are 17 working groups dealing with 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. With around 4,500 member companies, it is often representative of the overall economic activity of the country. TUSIAD is based in Istanbul and has representative offices in Washington D.C., Silicon Valley CA, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, London and Beijing.

Limitations on Selling US Products and Services

Turkey generally follows EU directives in terms of standards that document a product’s quality and safety. For example, this applies to the CE Mark (European Conformity). Therefore, if a CE Mark is required for a specific product for 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, due to environmental concerns, certain products regulated by “Regulation for Product Safety and Inspection 2020/3”, certain chemicals regulated by “Regulation for Product Safety and Inspection 2020/6” and metal scrap regulated by “Regulation for Product Safety and Inspection 2020/23” may not 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. The importing entity needs 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, have no limitations to practicing their professions in their home country and have their university and professional degrees approved by the Ministry of Health.

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.