Export from Turkey: A guide for Turkish SME exporters

Alibaba.com JUNE 27, 202213 MIN READ
Export from Turkey: A guide for Turkish SME exporters

Turkey is a well-known trading hub that supplies the world with many exports.

In 2019, Turkey's GDP was an estimated US$743.7 billion.1 They were 29th in the world for total exports.2

When it comes to international trade, Turkey knows a thing or two.

You could contribute to these numbers by starting an SME export business in this booming market. Or, if you're already an exporter, grow your business and increase these numbers through Alibaba.com.

We're breaking down Turkey's export market, related data, and the top 10 exports so you can become a seller with Alibaba.com from Turkey.

So, if you're wondering, "What is the best thing to export from Turkey?" or "What is Turkey's main export?" you're in the right place.

Overview of Turkey's Export Market

Turkey's export market is complex and profitable. Let's break it down.

Turkey was the 19th country in the world for GDP in 2020.2 They were 29th for total exports and 79th for GDP per capita.

Turkey placed 38th for the most complex economy, meaning the country's productive capabilities are ranked in the top quarter of the world.

The most common countries that Turkey exports to are Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Iraq, and Italy. Considering these countries are from vastly different areas of the world, Turkey's exports satisfy a variety of markets.

In 2020, Turkey recorded over US$177 billion worth of exports2 -- that's huge.

The numbers continue to grow yearly, meaning the export economy is a significant industry to join. For example, Turkey's exports to the United States alone increased by 190% between 2009 and 2019.1

A growing market is always a great one to join, so the time is right if you're considering starting an SME export business in Turkey.

And with Alibaba.com, becoming an exporter has never been simpler.

Alibaba.com offers terrific support to suppliers, such as the B2B tool suite or tailored services to help your business grow.

Top 10 Exports in Turkey

The first question you may have as a new exporter is, "What should I export?"

Many products perform well in Turkey's export market. Perhaps so many that it could be overwhelming, and you don't know where to start.

That's why we've compiled this list of Turkey's Top 10 Exports in 2020 based on this report.3

Turkey's top exports range throughout many different industries and can vary from year to year.

So if you're considering starting a business as an exporter or seller, these categories are bound to bring success.

1. Cars

Turkey's top export is vehicles, including cars and their parts. In 2020, Turkey's export value of vehicles was US$21.4 billion.

Turkey is the 16th largest exporter of cars in the world.4 These exports mainly go to France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Some of the top brands producing vehicles in Turkey are Toyota, Honda, Opel, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz.

To join the vehicle export industry in Turkey, you don't need to start a factory that builds entire automobiles. Instead, consider B2B sales of vehicle parts or accessories.

Export from Turkey

2. Machinery

Secondly, we have machinery! This includes boilers, mechanical appliances, and various machinery parts.

The machinery industry accounted for US$15.6 billion of Turkey's exports in 2020.

This industry is rapidly growing, with growth rates higher than Turkey's overall economy. More than 200 countries worldwide use Turkish machinery, with most exports traveling to the United States.5

Turkey's machinery industry boasts refined engineering skills, new technology adaptation, quality infrastructure and facilities, and excellent quality assurance.

3. Iron and steel

Metals, specifically iron and steel, had the third-highest export value at US$8.8 billion. In fact, Turkey was the world's biggest exporter of raw iron bars in 2020.2

Raw iron bars are made of iron and steel, so it's no surprise that these two metals were some of Turkey's biggest exports.

These materials are used to produce other goods, so they are exported to countries with large production hubs.

Turkey's metals get exported to China, Germany, the United States, Hong Kong, and Israel.

Iron and steel are great items to offer if you're considering starting a metal export business.

4. Electrical machinery

Electrical machinery is one of the world's most traded goods. And for Turkey, it's a highly profitable industry.

Electrical machinery and equipment accounted for US$8.3 billion of Turkey's exports in 2020.

What exactly is electrical machinery? The short answer is computers. The long answer is that anything from cables and wires to electrical appliances could be considered electrical machinery.

Take a look at some of the top electrical goods Turkey exports:

  • Cables and wires
  • Electrical appliances
  • Small motors for appliances
  • Power, distribution, and measurement transformers
  • Power generators
  • Breakers, contactors, fuses, capacitors, panels, and other electrical equipment
  • Batteries
  • Lighting materials
  • And more!

Turkey has grown its electrical machinery output by adopting technologies and diversifying goods in recent years.

5. Knitted and crocheted goods

Knitted and crocheted goods are the fifth biggest export for Turkey. To talk numbers, they valued US$8.2 billion in 2020.

If you're wondering why knit and crochet materials are separated, they often have different export/import requirements depending on the market. They also have different tariffs.

Knitted and crocheted goods can range from clothing to rugs and blankets. Turkey is known for its beautiful fabrics and fabric products, so this should be no surprise.

In 2020, Turkey was the world's 3rd largest exporter of knitted or crocheted fabrics, behind China and Korea.6

6. Stones, gems, and precious metals

Precious gems, stones, and metals had an export value of US$6.5 billion in Turkey in 2020.

This isn't surprising when you know that Turkey is 12th in the world for gold reserves.7 However, gold isn't the only precious metal that Turkey is exporting.

Turkey exports:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Diamonds
  • Pearls
  • Platinum
  • Other precious stones that are not diamonds

The biggest importers of Turkey's gold are the United Kingdom, the United States, and Kuwait.

If you're looking to get into the precious stones, gems, and metals industry, Turkey is a great place to do so, especially if you want to participate in the global markets listed above.

7. Plastics

This likely doesn't come as a surprise since the Middle East is known to have a booming oil industry, and oil is necessary to produce plastics.

Plastics account for US$6.5 billion in Turkey's 2020 exports, making them the 7th top export.

Plastics are a great product to get into, as they are a vast industry with few limits.

You can produce and trade almost anything with plastics: furniture, home supplies, appliances, accessories, and more.

8. Clothing

The Turkish clothing industry ranks 8th on our list as clothing, specifically non-knitted or non-crocheted articles, had an export value of US$6.2 billion in 2020.

This sector is essential to Turkey's economy, as it contributes to manufacturing, employment, investments, and the overall GDP.

Turkey's manufacturing can meet high standards and large production capacities that global markets demand.

Turkey's clothing exports have placed them 7th in the world for textile exports.8

9. Fruits and nuts

In 2020, edible fruits and nuts exports brought in US$4.4 billion for Turkey, and Turkey exported these goods to 150 countries worldwide.9

The highest exported items were raisins, figs, apricots, pine nuts, and pistachios. Germany, the UK, and Italy were the highest importers of Turkey's fruits and nuts.

If you're looking to enter the food export industry, fruits and nuts are a great place to start.

You'll need to learn special import rules for the global markets you sell to and packaging regulations. But with such a growing export industry, it will be worth it.

Export from Turkey

10. Mineral fuels and oil

Bringing in a total of US$3.6 billion in 2020, mineral fuels and oils and their distillation goods were the 10th top export for Turkey in 2020.

The biggest importers of Turkey's mineral fuels and oils are the Netherlands, India, Lebanon, Belgium, and Italy.

If you're interested in working with these markets, mineral fuels and oil are great products to start selling.

10 Tips for Turkish SME exporters

You've decided you want to become an SME exporter, and you've chosen which products you'd like to sell.

Now you need tips to get started.

It's not easy starting your own export business, but joining the Alibaba.com site as a seller takes out many of the complicated steps.

We have 10 tips to make becoming an SME exporter in Turkey more straightforward.

Find contacts in profitable markets

The first step to becoming a profitable exporter is establishing helpful contacts.

Building connections is an essential part of any business. But it's especially handy for exporters hoping to reach a global market.

Use websites like LinkedIn or social media to identify and build valuable connections. Alibaba.com is an excellent tool for this as well.

Establish finances

You'll need to determine finances when becoming an SME exporter in Turkey (or anywhere).

You'll need to understand your costs, retail values, revenue, profits, and more.

Finances can be the most stressful part of starting an SME exporting business. That's why you'll want to ensure you have a solid understanding before you get started.

Learn business customs

If you don't have previous experience in the business world, this is an important step that may not come to mind.

Should you offer a handshake or not? How should you start an email? What is the expected turnaround time for email communication?

You should know the answers to these questions and more. And most importantly, confidence is an essential business component in any market

Understand your selling markets

Where do you plan to export to? The United States? The United Kingdom? The European Union?

Once you establish which markets require your goods, you should gain knowledge of their statistics, data, and trends.

Understanding your selling markets will help you with your supply, marketing, business communications, and more.

Use free resources

There are many resources available for you, and the internet will help you find these resources.

Research helpful tools, programs, and courses to further your business knowledge. Find informative blogs like Alibaba.com's sellers' blogs to aid you.

Connect with other business exporters near you for help, or find those leading your industry and learn from them. Their information is valuable!

Utilizing available resources can help your export business to grow in many ways.

Pick an export you know

When deciding which goods you'd like to export, choose an industry you know and understand.

Not only will this help with the technical sides of your business, but it will also help with your passion and drive. Picking goods you're interested in will make your work more fulfilling.

And selling goods you're knowledgeable about will help you succeed. Starting a fashion export business may not be great if you have zero knowledge of women's clothing.

On the other hand, if you've worked in the oil industry and have a lot of knowledge and expertise, oils would be an excellent product for you to export.

Learn marketing skills

Once you start an export business, you'll need to know how to market it.

Luckily, Alibaba.com makes marketing your goods easy. You'll need to know best practices for product descriptions and graphic design, but the seller's platform does the rest.

Find a course or other free marketing resources to help market your goods with Alibaba.com.

Learn Alibaba.com

Another great tip is getting to know your selling platform like the back of your hand.

You should know all the functions and options available to you as a seller with Alibaba.com.

Alibaba.com's blogs are beneficial for learning about the platform and its capabilities.

For example, articles like "How to start selling on Alibaba.com" and "Why sell on Alibaba.com" will provide you with incredible knowledge to help your export business succeed.

contact with alibaba.com

Connect with buyers globally

When starting an export business, you'll need to find buyers in other markets outside of Turkey.

Connecting with these buyers is essential to establish key relationships that can bring you referrals and more connections via word of mouth.

Once you find buyers, focus on fostering these relationships. They will provide the best feedback and referrals to help your business scale.

Build a great team

As your business grows, you'll need a reliable team to succeed in Turkey's export market.

It's up to you to decide which areas you need assistance in, but it's always beneficial to understand your strengths and weaknesses and build a team that compliments your skill set.

Perhaps quality assurance isn't your strongest suit. No worries -- hire somebody with an eye for detail and a great understanding of your product.

Nobody gets to the top alone!

Sell Turkish Products on Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com has helped exporters from around the world grow their business and find buyers in global markets.

The Turkey Pavilion is a key resource on Alibaba.com that helps Turkish exporters connect with other suppliers, find buyers, list goods, and increase sales.

There are so many benefits that Alibaba.com can bring to Turkish exporters:

  • Make Made in Turkey items available to the world
  • Produce high-quality materials and find eager sellers
  • Make offers for ready-made purchase requests
  • Improve customer trust by achieving the gold supplier label on Alibaba.com
  • Expand your portfolio in current markets, and reach new markets.

By registering on Alibaba.com, you can start to take advantage of these benefits and increase the profitability of your business through exponential growth.

Get started selling on Alibaba.com with five easy steps:

Making money on Alibaba.com is simple, and getting started is even easier! Here are five simple steps to get you started.

Open your seller account

Opening an account is as easy as entering your contact information and hitting submit. Plus, you'll have a dedicated account manager to assist you.

Post your products or goods

Post the products you are looking to sell. Use informative product names, helpful product descriptions, and appealing product images.

Create a storefront

Your storefront on Alibaba.com should act as a physical storefront. Make it appealing for customers to learn about your business and your offerings.

Reply to inquiries

Potential customers will contact you and expect a response before making a sale. Put on your customer service hat and get to work! These B2B relationships will be important in your future.

Protect orders and payment

Alibaba.com's Trade Assurance protects your orders and your client's payments. It makes business safe and reliable for everyone, even if you're on opposite sides of the world.

What are you waiting for? Open a seller account on Alibaba.com today.

1. https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/europe-middle-east/europe/turkey
2. https://oec.world/en/profile/country/tur
3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1056306/largest-export-commodities-of-turkey/
4. https://oec.world/en/profile/bilateral-product/cars/reporter/tur#:~:text=Exports%20In%202020%2C%20Turkey%20exported,%2C%20and%20Spain%20(%24682M)
5. https://www.makinebirlik.com/En/AboutTurkishMachineryIndustry#:~:text=Machinery%20is%20the%20second%20largest,export%20has%20increased%2012%2Dfold
6. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1046785/knitted-or-crocheted-fabrics-leader-exporters-worldwide/
7. https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-discovers-20-ton-gold-reserve-worth-1-2-bln-165442#:~:text=Turkey%20ranks%2012th%20in%20the,even%20incompetence%2C%22%20he%20added
8. https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/8471/top-10-exporting-countries-of-textile-and-apparel-industry
9. https://east-fruit.com/en/news/in-2020-turkish-producers-exported-dried-fruits-to-150-countries-of-the-world/#:~:text=Home%20%E2%80%BA%20News%20%E2%80%BA-,In%202020%2C%20Turkish%20producers%20exported%20dried%20fruits,150%20countries%20of%20the%20world&text=At%20the%20end%20of%202020,Products%20Exporters%20Association%20(KUMIB)