The Republic of Turkey is strategically located at an intersection between Western Asia and Southeastern Europe. The transcontinental nation shares its borders with eight countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Turkey shipped US$169.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2020. That dollar amount reflects an 18.8% increase since 2016 but a -0.9% drop from 2019 to 2020. That figure also represents roughly 0.9% of overall global exports estimated at $18.709 trillion one year earlier during 2019 (calculated as of February 17, 2020).
Applying a continental lens, 55.7% of Turkey’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 26% were sold to Asian importers. Turkey shipped another 9% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North America (6.9%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.7%) then Oceania led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand (0.7%).
Turkey’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Turkey’s top trading partners in terms of export sales. These are countries that imported the most Turkish shipments by dollar value during 2020. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Turkish exports.
- Germany: US$16 billion (9.4% of total Turkish exports)
- United Kingdom: $11.2 billion (6.6%)
- United States: $10.2 billion (6%)
- Iraq: $9.1 billion (5.4%)
- Italy: $8.1 billion (4.8%)
- France: $7.2 billion (4.2%)
- Spain: $6.7 billion (3.9%)
- Netherlands: $5.2 billion (3.1%)
- Israel: $4.7 billion (2.8%)
- Russia: $4.5 billion (2.7%)
- Romania: $3.9 billion (2.3%)
- Belgium: $3.6 billion (2.1%)
- Poland: $3.5 billion (2%)
- Egypt: $3.1 billion (1.8%)
- China: $2.9 billion (1.7%)
Close to three-fifths (58.9%) of Turkish exports in 2020 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Among the above countries, the United States led in increasing its import purchases from Turkey thanks to a 26.6% gain from 2019 to 2020. In second place was Russia with a 16.7% improvement, trailed by Belgium (up 11.6%) and China (up 10.8%).
Leading the trade partners that reduced their imports from Turkey year over year were Spain (down -12.5%) and Italy (down -13%).
Overall Turkey incurred a -$49.9 billion deficit on all products for 2020. That amount is a 68.9% increase from the -$29.6 billion in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Turkey incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- China: -US$20.2 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2020)
- Russia: -$13.4 billion
- Switzerland: -$6.7 billion
- Germany: -$5.7 billion
- South Korea: -$4.6 billion
- India: -$3.9 billion
- Japan: -$3.3 billion
- United Arab Emirates: -$2.8 billion
- Brazil: -$2.6 billion
- Czech Republic: -$1.6 billion
Among Turkey’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Turkish deficits with United Arab Emirates (up 240.3%), Switzerland (up 195.4%) and Germany (up 122.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Turkey’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Turkey to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Turkey incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- United Kingdom: US$5.7 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2020)
- Israel: $3.2 billion
- Azerbaijan: $1.7 billion
- Spain: $1.7 billion
- Netherlands: $1.6 billion
- Egypt: $1.4 billion
- Morocco: $1.4 billion
- Syria: $1.3 billion
- Slovenia: $1.3 billion
- Romania: $1.1 billion
Among Turkey’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Turkish surpluses with Azerbaijan (up 34.5%), Israel (up 21.8%) and the Syrian Arab Republic (up 18.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Turkey’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Turkey to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Turkish Trading Partners
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)
See also Top Turkish Trade Balances, Turkey’s Top 10 Exports and Turkey’s Top 10 Imports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on February 17, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 17, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 17, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 17, 2021
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 17, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 17, 2021