Exporting goods to Turkey - Getting into the market

Turkey has its own unique business environment which is unlike anything else. Other major factors to consider are its geography and sheer size (300,000 square miles). And it also retains a reputation (perhaps wrongly) as a place where it’s difficult to do business. For example, protecting intellectual property is tougher than elsewhere. Pirating can be a major problem. (Around two-thirds of Turkey’s software sector is illegal.)

As with any other market you need to thoroughly research it and decide if your products have a place there and whether you can trade profitably. There is plenty of private and public sector advice available along with the key professional services firms. There are many English-speaking lawyers in Turkey.

Turkish firms tend to use standard domestic contracts and they shy away from foreign contracts which they fear may trap them.

Along with its capital Ankara and Istanbul, its commercial heart, other cities such as Izmir, Konya, Kayseri, Gaziantep, and Eskisehir now have an important place in the country’s economy.

As with many other markets forming and maintaining good business relationships is crucial. Turks expect overseas partners to stay in contact.

It will be necessary for you to decide whether you wish to sell via an agent or distributor or whether you need to establish a presence in the country by setting up a company. Limited liability is recommended for small and medium enterprises while joint stock companies are more appropriate for larger concerns.

In Turkey especially it is important to thoroughly check out those with whom you propose to do business. Remember also that while Turkey is a secular country it has a predominantly Muslim population and so it is vital to take Islamic tastes and attitudes into account in all dealings especially marketing. However, in the Western parts of the country attitudes to such things as alcohol tend to be more liberal than in other more rural areas.

With English widely taught in schools, it is spoken prominently in the business world, although perhaps not as widely as in other countries. You will find that many businesses of all sizes will have at least one member of staff who speaks English. Learning the language is, of course, useful but there is no shortage of interpreters.

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