Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Turkish lira depreciated by -132.6% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -23.8% from 2019 to 2020. 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 2020 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 53.3% of products exported from Turkey were bought by importers in: Germany (9.4% of the global total), United Kingdom (6.6%), United States (6%), Iraq (5.4%), Italy (4.8%), France (4.2%), Spain (3.9%), Netherlands (3.1%), Israel (2.8%), Russia (2.7%), Romania (2.3%) and Belgium (2.1%).
From a continental perspective, 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%).
Given Turkey’s population of 84.2 million people, its total $169.5 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $2,000 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.
Turkey’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Turkish global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Turkey.
- Vehicles: US$22.1 billion (13% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $16.8 billion (9.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $9.3 billion (5.5%)
- Iron, steel: $8.8 billion (5.2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $8.4 billion (4.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $7 billion (4.1%)
- Gems, precious metals: $6.7 billion (3.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $6.6 billion (3.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $6.4 billion (3.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $4.8 billion (2.9%)
Turkey’s top 10 exports accounted for under three-fifths (57.1%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Fruits and nuts was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 15.6% year over year since 2019. In second place for improving export sales was plastics and items made from plastic: which rose 10.7%. Turkey’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 6.5% year over year.
The leading decliner among Turkey’s top 10 export categories was its number 1 product export vehicles which fell -15.6%.
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.
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$7.8 billion (Down by -8.7% since 2019)
- Vehicles: $6.8 billion (Down by -58.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $5.8 billion (Up by 4.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.9 billion (Up by 5.8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $3.9 billion (Down by -4.7%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $3.2 billion (Up by 15%)
- Textile floor coverings: $2.6 billion (Up by 4%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $2.4 billion (Up by 3.7%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $2.3 billion (Up by 21.8%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $2.2 billion (Up by 29.2%)
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.
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.
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$24.2 billion (Down by -28.5% since 2019)
- Gems, precious metals: -$19.9 billion (Up by 232.4%)
- Machinery including computers: -$8.5 billion (Up by 66.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$7.8 billion (Up by 24.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$6.3 billion (Up by 32.7%)
- Organic chemicals: -$5.3 billion (Up by 8.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$4.8 billion (Down by -11%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$3.4 billion (Down by -0.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$3.1 billion (Down by -9.4%)
- Cereals: -$3 billion (Down by -4.7%)
Turkey has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category, particularly for processed petroleum oils, coal and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Turkey’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Turkey to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Turkish Export Companies
Based on Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Turkish companies.
- Koç Group (industrial conglomerate)
- Sabanci Holding (automotive, banking)
- Turkcell (mobile phones)
- Enka (construction services)
- Anadolu Efes (brewery, non-alcoholic drinks)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol lists the following firms exporting from Turkey.
- Anadolu Dokum San (cast iron/steel articles)
- Cevikler Dis Ticaret (monumental/building stone)
- Evimteks Dis Tic Ve Paz (woven fabrics, facial tissues)
- MCE Cargo (steam condensers, plywood)
- Ulus Metal San Ve Tic (chain sprockets, transmission components, auto parts)
Searchable List of Turkey’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Turkey during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||Turkey's Export Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|4||Processed petroleum oils||$6,058,626,000||-38.8%|
|7||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$2,746,441,000||-6.3%|
|8||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$2,947,082,000||-14.5%|
|9||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$2,726,587,000||-15.8%|
|10||Woven textile floor coverings||$2,118,722,000||+5.2%|
|12||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$1,976,631,000||+0.4%|
|15||Piston engine parts||$1,531,973,000||+2.5%|
|18||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,093,277,000||+29.2%|
|19||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,326,842,000||+6%|
|20||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$1,790,010,000||-21.9%|
|21||Rubber tires (new)||$1,506,147,000||-14%|
|22||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,471,827,000||-12.6%|
|24||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,075,180,000||+13.3%|
|25||Flat-rolled iron/non-alloy steel products||$1,018,639,000||+15.1%|
|27||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$1,056,207,000||+10%|
|29||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$1,249,696,000||-10.1%|
|30||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,071,911,000||+1.7%|
|31||Medication mixes in dosage||$786,648,000||+36.8%|
|32||Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)||$1,097,798,000||-4.8%|
|33||Monument/building stones, art||$971,539,000||+7.3%|
|34||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$1,017,700,000||+2.3%|
|36||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$1,108,337,000||-8.9%|
|37||Iron/non-alloy steel angles, shapes||$1,072,286,000||-6.1%|
|41||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$751,172,000||+25.3%|
|42||Electrical converters/power units||$793,463,000||+17.6%|
|43||Unknit special fabric garments||$19,413,000||+4,684%|
|44||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$825,697,000||+9.9%|
|45||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$825,246,000||+7.6%|
|46||Other than warp-knit fabrics||$859,054,000||+0.2%|
|48||Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles, cubes||$664,875,000||+17.7%|
|51||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$801,609,000||-9.4%|
|52||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$724,530,000||-1%|
|54||Grapes (fresh or dried)||$671,673,000||+0.03%|
|55||Calcareous monument or building stone||$863,961,000||-23.2%|
|56||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$433,593,000||+50.5%|
|57||Liquid pumps and elevators||$566,110,000||+15%|
|58||Synthetic yarn woven fabrics||$732,459,000||-11.7%|
|59||Yarn wash/clean/iron machines||$639,731,000||-0.01%|
|60||Vulcanized rubber items||$613,864,000||+1.8%|
|62||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$601,268,000||+1.8%|
|63||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$630,281,000||-4.4%|
|65||Dried shelled vegetables||$259,449,000||+128%|
|66||Synthetic filament yarn||$687,131,000||-14.9%|
|67||Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$905,412,000||-35.9%|
|69||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$505,081,000||+12.3%|
|70||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$556,794,000||+1.7%|
|71||Miscellaneous articles, dress patterns||$130,322,000||+330.1%|
|72||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$550,286,000||+0.8%|
|73||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$441,994,000||+25%|
|74||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$647,350,000||-15.1%|
|75||Base metal mountings, fittings||$532,086,000||+2.7%|
|77||Whole fish (fresh)||$511,814,000||+5.8%|
|78||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$454,936,000||+16.6%|
|82||Cruise/cargo ships, barges||$606,606,000||-14.3%|
|83||Central heating boilers||$487,348,000||+6.13%|
|84||Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$624,986,000||-17.6%|
|85||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$498,459,000||+3.2%|
|86||Other organic cleaning preparations||$400,183,000||+26.8%|
|89||Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)||$468,467,000||+3.9%|
|90||Wide knit or crochet fabrics||$455,835,000||+5.4%|
|91||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$461,145,000||+4.1%|
|93||Miscellaneous plastic items||$428,978,000||+11.3%|
|95||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$440,479,000||+7.1%|
|96||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$237,415,000||+98.3%|
|97||Air or vacuum pumps||$430,951,000||+8.7%|
|98||Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums||$328,761,000||+40.9%|
|99||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$451,207,000||-1.7%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$111.2 billion or 65.8% by value for all products exported from Turkey during 2020.
In macroeconomic terms, Turkey’s total exported goods represent 7.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($2.382 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 7.1% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2020 is less than the 7.3% one year earlier, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing 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 12.9% in November 2020, down from an average 13.831% for 2020 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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