International Expansion: TURKEY

Learn the Cultural Norms, Strentghs, Challenges and Opportunities of Doing business in Turkey

Do you plan to offer/launch your services/products in Turkey or maybe consider of buying from a Turkish company. You may see the currency difference (1£ =10.14 TL / 24 Jan 2021) and wonder how to benefit from the economical environment with its proximity and close link to the UK markets.

If Turkey isn’t on your international expansion list, then you are missing out.

Forget Turkey as a holiday destination, focus on the transformation of the country at every level/industry over the past ten years. Don`t take our word for it and check the statistics of Turkey`s bold, persistent and confident growth in various industries over the past decade.

It has never been a better time to do business with TURKEY... WHY?

1) TURKEY - UK has a trade volume of £18.6 billion in 2019 and recently (Dec 2020) signed the FREE TRADE DEAL to secure the growing volume of trade relationship between the parties. While, BREXIT makes it uncertain for British Companies to do business with its biggest trade partner EU, Turkey already offers a no change trade environment...

2) Due to curreny depreciation happened between late 2018 - to date, Turkey offers probably the most competitive pricing with EU quality level products (As EU is the largest export partner of Turkey)

Benefits & Strengths:

Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Turkey:

  • gateway to the markets of Central Asia, south Caucasus and the Middle East

  • European business ethics and modern management practices

  • Use of English for business

  • a 6 day average to start a business

  • low social security contribution rate with an offer of a 5% rebate

  • new initiatives to meet EU standards making it a more familiar business environment

Strengths of the Turkish market include:

  • becoming the world’s 16th largest economy and Europe’s sixth

  • a forecast to be in the world’s top 10 economies by 2023

  • strong Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth with an average of 4% between 2002 and 2012

  • having the youngest and fastest growing population in Europe (700,000 graduates per year) High percentage of having Master`s degree and doctorate levels.

  • Istanbul and Ankara being among the biggest cities in the world in terms of GDP

  • a forecast to be the second fastest growing country in the world by 2018 according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

  • investments of more than TL 112 billion (USD 60 billion) in the transport, maritime and communications sectors in the last 10 years

  • access to 1.5 billion customers in Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa and to markets with a total USD25 trillion GDP within 4 hours flight.



Is it Always Sunny in Turkey? Well, depending on the location, Yes :) however, there are some challenging issues you may face in the business environment.

Because of the Customs Union with the EU, UK companies don’t experience the same obstacles they may face in other high growth markets. However, there are certain unique challenges when doing business in or with Turkey. These include:

  • regulatory issues

  • bureaucracy

  • sudden changes to legislation and regulations without warning and consultation

  • a need to demonstrate a commitment to the market, either by having a visible presence in the country or building and maintaining strong relationships

  • necessity of regular market visits to fulfil Turkish requirements


Top UK exports to Turkey include:

  • machinery

  • mechanical appliances

  • pharmaceuticals

  • vehicles

  • iron and steel

  • plastics

Industries to invest: (Recommended by UK -Department of Internation Trade)

- Healthcare & Life Sciences (Medical Equipment / Hospital Services / Facilities Design)

- Advanced Manufacturing (Automotive / Maritime / Aerospace)

- Energy (Solar**** / Wind / Nuclear)

- Securiy (Equipment / Cyber Security)

- Infrastructure (Transportation / Water / Construction)

Few Import Tips:

- Automotive parts Industry has grown rapidly over past years with complext manufacturing capabilities

- Turkish Construction Companies are second to only China in the world (2020, ENR) with extensive know-how and wide range of material - equipment suppliers.

- Steel product buyers know well that Turkey is a must-to check haven due to the competitive pricing and wide range of products.

- Would you like to find a new opportunity... Let us assist you to find new suppliers/ source cheaper or better quality products and add value to your organisations. Contact

After the DATA part, let`s have a look on something more FUN!

Cultural Norms:

Fun Fact: Turks consume around three to five cups of black tea daily while this number increases to 10 cups during winter.

Plenty of opportunities exist in Turkey, but always remember every culture is a bit different than the other. The Turkish people like to do things their way. Turkey is a neighbour to Europe, and you can expect a very similar culture in the reigons close to border, while going further to Asia you`ll experience the culture change. Wait it is not a warning, actually it is an opportunity if you can embrace it...

On the below, we offer few useful tips for doing business in Turkey, how to approach businesses in Turkey, the etiquette and image you should carry with you and how best to present yourself to your Turkish clients.

Business Style in Istanbul vs. Anatolia

Turkey is a huge country (population: 82m in 2019) with rich diversity at every level. An obvious difference, you need to be aware of is the split between Istanbul and Anatolia.

Istanbul is the 5th biggest city in the world

Doing business in Istanbul (+Ankara, Bursa, Izmir, Antalya) generally could be viewed as being “easier”; it’s a large city, prolonged exposure to European business, has large expat communities and the locals tend to be a lot more tolerant.

Go to Anatolia and you find people are a lot more religions, more conservative and family orientated. However, this doesn’t make the latter more difficult; in fact, I would argue it’s easier if you know what you’re doing. Learn more about who you are dealing with, where they come from and what they are about.

Making first contact

To make contact with potential partners in Turkey, here are some tips to keep mind.

Turkish people are extremely social and highly value personal trust in their relationship. If you approach with a GOOD referral - Be ready to welcomed as their closest friend. Adding personal touches to your e-mails, phone calls would highly increase your chance.

Well, you may not be lucky to find a common contact, then you can try to go over the private or government led "Commerce Chambers" which is highly trusted by their members and help you to get in touch with a potential partner more effectively.

Meeting and greeting

Be ready to kiss other man - 2 times !

Maybe not in a first instance but once people get to know you be ready to kiss people during your hand-shake (cheek to cheek, 2 times)

Shake hands firmly with men

If you are meeting a conservative looking woman, (No Kiss) wait if she extends her hand first.

Turks kiss upon meeting and departing. (No way during the pandemic)

When initially addressing a Turk, stay formal.

When addressing a Man: "First Name of the person" followed by BEY - (pronounced bay)

When addressing a Woman: "First Name of the person" followed by Hanım - (pronounced ha-num)


Turks love to talk in general, one of the best ice-breaker is talk about football as its the most popular sport in the country. The majority of Turks support one of the three teams– Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Galatasaray. Feel free to criticise, add comments or ask opinions about players, current status or transfers, you will find it quite easy to build rapport with others.


If you do business in Turkey, expect a lot of food, tea and coffee. They love to host and it’s a key part of the culture to look after guests. Be certain they will do their best to entertain you during your visit as their guest.

It’s important to know the protocol over who pays the bill – Turkish culture demands the host always pays. From common courtesy, ask to split it 1 or 2 times then give up and thank your host for their generosity and insist at the next meal, you will be the host.


We know this depends highly on the person you are dealing with, However some useful tips that you can use during negotiating are:

- Turks are practical people, emphasise your stengths clearly: Are you cheaper? Is it a must-to have product / service? AND Be sure you present data verbally or in visual. Written formats especially e-mails are somehow not the best way to communicate.

- If your Service or Product can help your partner to beat their competitiors or the first in its field: put it that way "How much influence, honour, admiration they would gain by having it"


Doing Business in Turkey could be one of your most convinient international expansion if you:

- Can find a right local partner

- Know influential people

- Cash - Buyer

- Seller of an innovation (product / service)

  • Decisions are made slowly, especially if you have no relationship with the decision maker personally.

  • Bureaucracy can be a big headache but again the right people can lift the burden on your shoulders.

  • Do your due diligince before making a partnership.

  • And last but not the least, Turks are practical people so be ready for alternative solutions on every step.

About Levene Consulting

We are a boutique consulting firm based in London / UK specialised in TR-UK trade & business. Our team prepares Tailor-made, sector based or industrial solutions based on research and your business needs.

With the help of our close collaboration with reputable partners in Turkey and local service providers based in UK, we aim to be your one-stop trusted partner in all your business projects.

To contact with us or find out how we can add value to your organisation , send an e-mail to or visit us at

Being A “Safe Pair of Hands”

Having Attention to Detail

Being The “Go-To” For Something

Knowing How to Think Before You Do

Having Resourcefulness

Not Being Afraid to Ask Good Questions

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