Turkey

An economy that’s thriving and a young, vibrant society make Turkey a desirable destination for business. A skilled and inexpensive workforce and a strong manufacturing heritage add to its attraction.

Covid-19 latest information

This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in Turkey. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in August 2020.

 

Welcome to Turkey

With a base in Turkey since 1990, HSBC offers banking services to businesses and individuals, combining in-depth local knowledge with global expertise. That means we’re well positioned to help you take advantage of the many opportunities Turkey can offer.

Turkey is a gateway destination, linking East and West. Significant investment in infrastructure and a desire to improve trade connections are at the heart of Turkey’s politico-economic strategy. The opening of its first mega airport and future plans to grow capacity are part of the ambition to turn the country into a strategic hub for Europe, Asia and Africa.

HSBC can help you and your business capitalise on these ambitions. We provide a comprehensive range of local and cross-border financial services to suit both your personal and business needs, whether you are moving to the region, working in the area, or purely investing or doing business in Turkey.

I look forward to welcoming you to Turkey.

Selim Kervancı Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Turkey

Head office address: HSBC Bank A.S., Esentepe Mah. Buyukdere Cad. No:128 Sisli-Istanbul 34394

Essentials

Population
82.3 million
Size
783,562 sq km1
Main languages
Turkish is the official language
Capital city
Ankara
Other major cities
Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Adana
Currency
Turkish Lira
Dialling code
+90
GDP
USD9,370.18 per capita2
Top exports
Vehicles, gold, machinery including computers, iron / steel, gems, refined petroleum, clothing and accessories, plastics, citrus fruits3
Top imports
Mineral fuels including oil, machinery including computers, nuclear reactors, iron and steel, electrical machinery, vehicles, plastics, gems, precious metals, organic chemicals3
Unemployment rate
13.7%4
Corporation tax
20-22%5
Typical office hours
8.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Shops usually open 9.00am-7.00pm. Some cities observe a 7.00am-2.00pm working day in summer months
Time zone
UTC +3
Emergency numbers
112 (ambulance),155 (police), 110 (fire)

1 Central Intelligence Agency, 2020,
2 World Bank Group, 2019,
3 World’s Top Exports, 2019,
4 Trading Economics, 2020,
5 Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Investment Office, 2019

Indices

The following metrics give a comprehensive overview of Turkey’s competitiveness on a regional and global scale.

  • Ranked #78 for ease of doing business
    (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)
  • Ranked #61 for global competitiveness
    (in a survey of 141 countries by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report)
  • Ranked #26 for Ease of doing business – Paying Taxes
    (in a survey of 190 countries by World Bank Group)
  • Ranked #97 for innovation
    (in a survey of 129 countries by INSEAD)
  • Ranked #13 for tax competitiveness
    (in a survey of 36 countries by the Tax Foundation)
  • Ranked #79 in the Global Happiness Report
    (in a survey of 156 countries by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network)
  • Ranked #37 for entrepreneurship
    (in a survey of 137 countries by the Entrepreneurship and Development Institute)
  • Ranked #109 for rule of law
    (in a survey of 126 countries by the World Justice Project)

Turkey: A natural gateway to trade

Gateway destination

Turkey is well positioned between Europe and the Middle East and has an historic pedigree as a trading nation. The country straddles the continents of Asia and Europe, giving it a unique location and perspective. Able to access the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean seas, trade comes naturally to Turkey.

Investment in infrastructure

Turkey’s strategic location between East and West makes it a key component of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the country is investing heavily in new transport infrastructure projects across road, rail and air travel.

Demographic opportunity

Turkey boasts the youngest and fastest-growing population in Europe. A growing number of graduates have raised education levels significantly in the last decade. Although it remains below the OECD average, enrolment rates are high and rising. A similar pattern is seen in rising participation in secondary education, with growth in enrolment rates the highest amongst OECD countries.

Growing consumer class

With a population of over 80 million and a growing middle class, Turkey represents a strong opportunity for businesses trading in consumer goods. Increases in employment opportunities and a corresponding rise in incomes has seen Turkey become an upper-middle-income country.

Strong economic growth

Since 2000, Turkey has enjoyed strong economic growth, creating rising urbanisation and leading to a decline in poverty levels and growing social development. Recent economic decline, with growth slowing down and inflation increasing, is a near-term risk. However, the signs are that positive growth is set to return in the long term.

Country profile

With its advantageous position, straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey is a strategic trading location, offering opportunities for investors.

Turkey plays a unique role in global trade. Bordering several European and Asian countries, Turkey links Europe with the Middle East and Asia. Its history has fostered links with both European countries and traders in the Middle and Far East and in today’s global world, it is an ambitious, forward-thinking nation investing significantly in a modern future.

Infrastructure investment and growing foreign interest have seen Turkey’s fortunes improve in recent years. Transport connections both within the country and connecting it globally have been enhanced, including the creation of a new air transport hub in Istanbul that significantly increases passenger capacity.

Capitalising on its East-West location, Turkey aims to become a key energy transport hub. Turkey has the capacity to transport 121 million tons of oil (representing 3% of global annual oil consumption) to world markets per year. Plans to grow this include the development of new pipelines and the opening of a Southern Gas Corridor for Caspian and Middle Eastern gas, allowing gas exports to the EU.

Istanbul is the only world city to sit across two continents – Europe and Asia – divided by the Bosporus.

Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in Turkey and how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your business.

5 reasons to do business in Turkey1

  1. Growing consumer class
    Turkey’s transformation into an upper-middle-income economy has seen a growing consumer class and high rates of urbanisation, with 20 urban centres having a population in excess of two million.
  2. Low cost of labour
    The high population of educated young people means that salaries are low.
  3. Increasingly educated population
    Education levels are rising, with expenditure above the OECD average.
  4. Government incentives
    Keen to encourage overseas investment and participation, the Turkish Government offers a number of incentives for businesses.
  5. Ease of setting up business
    Recent years have seen a number of steps to streamline business procedures and create a more business-friendly environment, so setting up a business is now quick and easy.

5 key challenges2

  1. 1

    Working in Turkey

    Before moving to Turkey, you must apply for a work/residence visa from your local embassy. Document requirements and fees are subject to change (and often do), but up-to-date information on requirements is available from the embassy.

  2. 2

    Political landscape

    Since the referendum in 2017 and the presidential election in 2018, Turkey has moved from a parliamentary to an executive presidential system of government. A failed coup in 2016 led to a State of Emergency being declared, which expired in 2018. Involvement in the Syria conflict continues to create global economic impacts.

  3. 3

    Rule of law

    Lengthy judicial processes around contract enforcement and bankruptcy, as well as long bureaucratic procedures within state mechanisms, are all challenges in Turkey.

  4. 4

    Paying taxes

    Paying taxes can be a demanding task; with some 15 tax payments required each year and a number of non-standard taxes applicable.

  5. 5

    Construction

    Permits for construction can take time and effort to secure – an average of 180 days. Obtaining electricity is also time consuming and can take up to 70 days. Steps are being taken to make the processes quicker and easier.

1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019,
2 TMF Group, 2019