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$171.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That figure represents roughly 0.9% of overall global exports estimated at $19.285 trillion one year earlier during 2018 (calculated as of February 4, 2020).
Adopting a continental perspective, 56% of Turkish exports by value were delivered to European countries while 25.9% were sold to importers in Asia. Turkey shipped another 9.3% worth of goods to Africa and 5.6% to North American customers. Much smaller percentages of Turkish exports arrived in Latin America (1.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, with 0.6% going to Oceania led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand.
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 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Turkish exports.
- Germany: US$15.4 billion (9% of total Turkish exports)
- United Kingdom: $10.9 billion (6.3%)
- Italy: $9.3 billion (5.4%)
- Iraq: $9 billion (5.2%)
- United States: $8 billion (4.7%)
- France: $7.6 billion (4.5%)
- Spain: $7.6 billion (4.5%)
- Netherlands: $5.4 billion (3.2%)
- Israel: $4.4 billion (2.5%)
- Russia: $3.9 billion (2.3%)
- Romania: $3.8 billion (2.2%)
- United Arab Emirates: $3.5 billion (2.1%)
- Egypt: $3.3 billion (1.9%)
- Poland: $3.3 billion (1.9%)
- Belgium: $3.2 billion (1.9%)
Close to three-fifths (57.7%) of Turkish exports in 2019 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Among the above countries, Saudi Arabia led in increasing its import purchases from Turkey thanks to a 20.7% gain from 2018 to 2019. In second place was the Netherlands with a 13.8% improvement, followed by Russia (up 13.3%), the United Arab Emirates (up 12.1%) then Israel (up 11.8%).
Leading the trade partners reducing their imports from Turkey year over year were Germany (down -4.7%), the United States (down -3.2%), Italy (down -2.9%) and the United Kingdom (down -2.2%).
Overall Turkey incurred a -$29.6 billion deficit on all products for 2019. That amount is a -46.4% reduction from the -$55.1 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.
- Russia: US-$18.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2019)
- China: -$15.8 billion
- India: -$5.5 billion
- South Korea: -$4.7 billion
- Japan: -$3 billion
- United States: -$3 billion
- Germany: -$2.6 billion
- Switzerland: -$2.3 billion
- Brazil: -$2 billion
- Malaysia: -$1.5 billion
Among Turkey’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Turkish deficits with Germany (down -39.6%), Brazil (down -28.4%) and the United States (down -27.2%) reduced at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
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.
- Iraq: US$6.5 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2019)
- United Kingdom: $5.4 billion
- Spain: $3.5 billion
- Israel: $2.6 billion
- Netherlands: $2.4 billion
- Egypt: $1.8 billion
- Morocco: $1.7 billion
- Libya: $1.5 billion
- Slovenia: $1.5 billion
- Romania: $1.4 billion
Among Turkey’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Turkish surpluses with Egypt (up 112.2%), the Netherlands (up 61.7%) and Spain (up 57.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
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 4, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 4, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 4, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 4, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 4, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 4, 2020
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 4, 2020