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Turkey’s Top 10 Exports

Turkey shipped US$157.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017, up by 3.5% since 2013 and up by a further 10.2% from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Turkey’s exported goods plus services represent 24% of total Turkish economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 53.3% of Turkish exports by value are delivered to European countries while 29.7% are sold to Asian importers. Turkey ships another 7.2% worth of goods to Africa and 6.5% to North American customers. A much smaller percentage of Turkish exports arrived in Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean.

Given Turkey’s population of 80.8 million people, its total $157.1 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $1,900 for every resident in that country.

Turkey’s unemployment rate was 10.3% as of October 2017 up from 8.5% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Turkish global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Turkey.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) level, Turkey’s number 1 export product are cars followed by gold, automotive parts and accessories, trucks, jewelry then T-shirts.

1.    Vehicles: US$23.9 billion (15.2% of total exports)

2.    Machinery including computers: $13.8 billion (8.8%)

3.    Gems, precious metals: $10.9 billion (6.9%)

4.    Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $8.8 billion (5.6%)

5.    Iron, steel: $8.2 billion (5.2%)

6.    Electrical machinery, equipment: $8.1 billion (5.2%)

7.    Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $6 billion (3.8%)

8.    Articles of iron or steel: $5.6 billion (3.6%)

9.    Plastics, plastic articles: $5.5 billion (3.5%)

10.  Mineral fuels including oil: $4.3 billion (2.8%)

Turkey’s top 10 exports accounted for three-fifths (60.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Led by refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases, the mineral fuels including oil category was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories via its 34.7% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Close behind in second place was iron and steel with its 33.3% improvement.

Exported vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value at 20.9%, followed by items made from iron or steel up 12.9%.

Only one top product category declined, gems and precious metals which dropped -10.7% year over year, thanks mainly to diminished international sales of gold, silver and diamonds.
The following types of Turkish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

1.    Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$8.1 billion (Up by 0.7% since 2016)

2.    Vehicles: $6.5 billion (Up by 232.3%)

3.    Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $4.6 billion (Up by 8.9%)

4.    Fruits, nuts: $3.4 billion (Up by 1.1%)

5.    Articles of iron or steel: $2.6 billion (Up by 33.5%)

6.    Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $2.2 billion (Up by 20.1%)

7.    Textile floor coverings: $2.1 billion (Up by 13.9%)

8.    Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $1.8 billion (Up by 4.9%)

9.    Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $1.8 billion (Up by 9.9%)

10.  Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $1.8 billion (Up by 2%)

Turkey has highly positive net exports in the international trade of apparel. In turn, these cashflows indicate Turkey’s strong competitive advantages under the knit or crochet clothing product categories.


Overall Turkey posted a -$76.7 billion deficit on all products for 2017 expanding 36.8% from the -$56.1 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2016.

Below are exports from Turkey that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Turkey’s goods trail Turkish importer spending on foreign products.

1.    Mineral fuels including oil: -US$32.9 billion (Up by 37.2% since 2016)

2.    Machinery including computers: -$13.3 billion (Down by -10.9%)

3.    Electrical machinery, equipment: -$13.1 billion (Up by 6.1%)

4.    Iron, steel: -$8.5 billion (Up by 33.3%)

5.    Plastics, plastic articles: -$7.8 billion (Up by 18%)

6.    Gems, precious metals: -$6.6 billion (Down by -232%)

7.    Organic chemicals: -$4.7 billion (Up by 21.7%)

8.    Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$4.2 billion (Up by 6.7%)

9.    Pharmaceuticals: -$3.6 billion (Up by 5.4%)

10.  Copper: -$1.9 billion (Up by 17.1%)

Turkey has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels including oil–particularly processed oils, coal and petroleum gases.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Turkey’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Turkey to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.

Turkish Export Companies

Based on Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Turkish companies:

§  Koç Group (industrial conglomerate)

§  Sabanci Holding (automotive, banking)

§  Turkcell (mobile phones)

§  Enka (construction services)

§  Anadolu Efes (brewery, non-alcoholic drinks)

Global trade intelligence firm Zepol lists the following firms exporting from Turkey:

§  Anadolu Dokum San (cast iron/steel articles)

§  Cevikler Dis Ticaret (monumental/building stone)

§  Evimteks Dis Tic Ve Paz (woven fabrics, facial tissues)

§  MCE Cargo (steam condensers, plywood)

§  Ulus Metal San Ve Tic (chain sprockets, transmission components, auto parts)

Fastest-Growing Turkish Export Products
Wikimedia Commons

Seven of the fastest-growing Turkish export products posted a triple-digit gain from 2011 to 2015. Those top gainers represent a diverse range of goods, from exported baby diapers and mats to gold and lead.

Overall, Turkish exports averaged a 6.6% increase over the 5-year period.

Please note that this analysis is at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, which is better for looking at high-level trends as opposed to uncovering opportunities at the more micro 4, 6, 8 or 10-digit code level.

Fastest-Growing Turkish Export Products

Listed below in descending order are the fastest-growing Turkish export products. Shown within parentheses is the percentage increase in a product category’s exports from 2011 to 2015.

1.    Miscellaneous manufactured articles: Up by 655.9% (US$970.9 million)

2.    Plaiting products, basketwork: Up by 454.8% ($4 million)

3.    Live animals: Up by 454.7% ($34.5 million)

4.    Gems, precious metals: Up by 201.3% ($11.3 billion)

5.    Lead: Up by 144.6% ($18.7 million)

6.    Food industry waste, animal fodder: Up by 116.5% ($110.6 million)

7.    Aircraft, spacecraft: Up by 100.4% ($688.8 million)

8.    Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: Up by 99.7% ($2 million)

9.    Arms and ammunition: Up by 85.2% ($440.9 million)

10.  Clocks, watches including parts: Up by 84.4% ($34.9 million)

11.  Headgear: Up by 83.3% ($31.1 million)

12.  Explosives, pyrotechnics: Up by 65.3% ($30.3 million)

13.  Fish: Up by 63.8% ($647.5 million)

14.  Optical, technical, medical apparatus: Up by 61.7% ($724.8 million)

15.  Pharmaceuticals: Up by 54.9% ($878.1 million)

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