Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Turkish lira depreciated by -143.7% against the US dollar since 2017 and declined by -26.9% from 2020 to 2021. Turkey’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Turkey’s biggest export products by value in 2021 were cars, automotive parts or accessories, trucks, refined petroleum oils and jewelry. In aggregate, those major exports account for 15% of overall exports sales from Turkey. That percentage suggests a relatively diversified range of exported goods.
Historically recognized as a go-to exporter for rugs, Turkey also ranks among the leading nations for exporting trucks and jewelry.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 52.7% of products exported from Turkey were bought by importers in: Germany (8.6% of the global total), United States of America (6.5%), United Kingdom (6.1%), Italy (5.1%), Iraq (4.9%), Spain (4.3%), France (4.1%), Netherlands (3%), Israel (2.8%), Russia (2.6%), United Arab Emirates (2.4%) and Romania (2.3%).
From a continental perspective, 55.3% of Turkey’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 24.7% were sold to importers in Asia. Turkey shipped another 9.4% worth of goods to Africa, with 7.7% going to North America.
Smaller percentages were sold to Latin America (2.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand (0.6%).
Given Turkey’s population of 84.6 million people, its total $225.3 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $2,000 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country. That per-capital amount compares with an average $2,000 for 2020.
Turkey’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Turkish global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Turkey.
- Vehicles: US$25 billion (11.1% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $20.8 billion (9.2%)
- Iron, steel: $17.1 billion (7.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $12 billion (5.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $11 billion (4.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $10.8 billion (4.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $10 billion (4.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $8.8 billion (3.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $8.5 billion (3.8%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $7.5 billion (3.3%)
Turkey’s top 10 exports accounted for under three-fifths (58.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Iron and steel represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 94.1% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil which rose 80.5% led by refined petroleum oils.
Turkey’s shipments of gems and precious metals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 63.8%, propelled by higher international revenues from gold.
The most modest gain among Turkey’s top 10 export categories was the 13.3% improvement for vehicles.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Turkey’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
Products Generating the Greatest Trade Surpluses for Turkey
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.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$10.1 billion (Up by 28.7% since 2020)
- Vehicles: $9.4 billion (Up by 38.6%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $6.7 billion (Up by 14.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $6 billion (Up by 52.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $4.5 billion (Up by 13.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $4 billion (Up by 25.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $3.9 billion (Reversing a -$19.9 billion deficit)
- Textile floor coverings: $3.2 billion (Up by 23.5%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $2.9 billion (Up by 19.4%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $2.7 billion (Up by 15.5%)
Turkey has highly positive net exports in the international trade of knit or crochet clothing and accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Turkey’s strong competitive advantages under the knit or crochet clothing product categories.
Products Causing the Biggest Trade Deficits for Turkey
Overall Turkey incurred a -$46.1 billion deficit on all products for 2021. That amount is a -7.5% decrease from the -$48.6 billion in red ink one year earlier during 2020.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$42.2 billion (Up by 74.2% since 2020)
- Iron, steel: -$10.5 billion (Up by 67.1%)
- Machinery including computers: -$10.2 billion (Up by 20.2%)
- Organic chemicals: -$8.3 billion (Up by 56.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$8 billion (Up by 1.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$7.6 billion (Up by 58.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$5 billion (Up by 58.7%)
- Cereals: -$3.8 billion (Up by 28.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$3.5 billion (Up by 0.7%)
- Copper: -$2.7 billion (Up by 63.4%)
Turkey has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category, notably for processed petroleum oils, coal and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Turkey’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Turkey to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Turkey’s Major Export Companies
Based on Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Turkish companies.
- Koç Group (industrial conglomerate)
- Sabanci Holding (automotive, banking)
- Turkcell (mobile phones)
- Enka (construction services)
- Anadolu Efes (brewery, non-alcoholic drinks)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol lists the following firms exporting from Turkey.
- Anadolu Dokum San (cast iron/steel articles)
- Cevikler Dis Ticaret (monumental/building stone)
- Evimteks Dis Tic Ve Paz (woven fabrics, facial tissues)
- MCE Cargo (steam condensers, plywood)
- Ulus Metal San Ve Tic (chain sprockets, transmission components, auto parts)
Searchable List of Turkey’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Turkey during 2021. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2020.
|Rank||Turkey's Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||YOY|
|3||Processed petroleum oils||$3,718,144,000||+75.4%|
|6||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$2,568,787,000||+85.3%|
|8||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$2,523,670,000||+35.4%|
|10||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$1,171,223,000||+144.3%|
|11||Textile floor coverings, carpets||$1,171,223,000||+144.3%|
|12||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$2,230,168,000||+21.6%|
|13||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$2,302,830,000||+17.4%|
|15||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$1,912,152,000||+31.8%|
|17||Piston engine parts||$1,751,199,000||+26.2%|
|18||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,569,554,000||+17.8%|
|19||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,406,207,000||+30.7%|
|22||Rubber tires (new)||$995,888,000||+79.9%|
|23||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$1,295,687,000||+31.2%|
|24||Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections||$1,007,657,000||+67.4%|
|25||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,006,329,000||+63.3%|
|26||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,290,093,000||+25.5%|
|28||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$1,034,037,000||+50.5%|
|29||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$1,127,093,000||+34.4%|
|33||Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)||$1,218,695,000||+12.3%|
|35||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$1,535,775,000||-17.3%|
|36||Other than warp-knit fabrics||$1,041,803,000||+21.3%|
|37||Medication mixes in dosage||$860,761,000||+46.8%|
|38||Monument/building stones, art||$1,079,974,000||+16.8%|
|39||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,042,085,000||+20.4%|
|40||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$1,091,251,000||+9%|
|41||Wheat, meslin flour||$887,892,000||+30.1%|
|42||Electrical converters/power units||$951,074,000||+16.4%|
|43||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$933,460,000||+18.2%|
|46||Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$569,943,000||+83.6%|
|47||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$578,733,000||+79.5%|
|48||Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles||$907,728,000||+13.3%|
|49||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$782,873,000||+25.3%|
|51||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$736,898,000||+27.2%|
|52||Synthetic filament yarn||$940,974,000||-0.7%|
|54||Liquid pumps and elevators||$809,151,000||+7.7%|
|56||Synthetic yarn woven fabrics||$545,805,000||+54.7%|
|59||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$261,938,000||+209.6%|
|60||Yarn wash/clean/iron machines||$566,658,000||+41.5%|
|61||Marble, other monumen t or building stone||$639,747,000||+23.7%|
|62||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$663,406,000||+18.7%|
|64||Yarn (85%+ cotton)||$761,284,000||+2.1%|
|66||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$527,348,000||+46%|
|67||Vulcanized rubber items||$613,645,000||+25.1%|
|69||Cruise/cargo ships, barges||$693,143,000||+8.4%|
|70||Ligneous fiberboard including wood||$520,020,000||+43.1%|
|71||Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$488,998,000||+51%|
|72||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$216,469,000||+231.1%|
|73||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$716,954,000||-0.8%|
|74||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$419,835,000||+68.3%|
|75||Dried shelled vegetables||$569,388,000||+23.3%|
|76||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$591,594,000||+16.8%|
|77||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$533,038,000||+29.5%|
|78||Grapes (fresh or dried)||$554,842,000||+24.1%|
|80||Base metal mountings, fittings||$596,180,000||+14.1%|
|82||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$527,783,000||+28.3%|
|83||Central heating radiators||$555,035,000||+19.75%|
|84||Wide knit or crochet fabrics||$434,144,000||+51.3%|
|85||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$479,884,000||+36.6%|
|86||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$446,478,000||+44.7%|
|87||Uninsulated copper wire, cables||$479,980,000||+34.4%|
|88||Whole fish (fresh)||$361,910,000||+76.6%|
|89||Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)||$540,582,000||+17.8%|
|90||Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$487,048,000||+30.6%|
|91||Men's suits,trousers (knit or crochet)||$518,176,000||+21.7%|
|92||Central heating boilers||$376,167,000||+67.3%|
|93||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$517,248,000||+20.8%|
|94||Air or vacuum pumps||$473,476,000||+31%|
|95||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$469,450,000||+30%|
|96||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$514,292,000||+17.5%|
|98||Iron and steel stoves, barbecues||$624,307,000||-5.2%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$148.9 billion or 66.1% by value for all products exported from Turkey during 2021.
In macroeconomic terms, Turkey’s total exported goods represent 7.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($2.874 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 7.8% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2021 exceeds the 7.1% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Turkey’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Turkey’s unemployment rate was 12.152% in October 2021, down from an average 13.147% for 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Turkey’s capital city is Ankara.
See also Top Turkish Trade Balances, Turkey’s Top Trading Partners and Turkey’s Top 10 Imports
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Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 22, 2022
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International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 22, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 22, 2022
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Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on March 22, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 22, 2022
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Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 22, 2022
Zepol’s Company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 22, 2022