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Export opportunities in the Turkish market

On the back of May's Export Week - High Growth Markets, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) South East's Lev Denker, an International Trade Adviser and expert on Turkey, highlights the business opportunities for UK firms in the market. It has the fastest growing emerging market in Europe and Istanbul is a candidate city for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games:

"Having led the work for Turkey for UKTI South East since 2007, I can say that it's a fantastic market to target. There is a high demand for the kinds of things that many UK firms offer, as they are huge consumers of personal technology including smart phones, tablets and laptops. They always want the latest, most up to date items. In fact, the Turkish buyer seems to change his mobile phone at the same rate you might change your socks.

"There aren't enough of these talented small firms trying to sell their products to overseas markets, which is a shame when exporting offers big opportunities for increased profits. Advisers, like myself, from UKTI can offer free advice and support to guide companies through every step of the process. We work closely with other business organisations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to give all aspects of export advice including finance, taxation and documentation.

"Turkey is a warm and friendly place to do business. Over the last five years I have led four market visits to Turkey, with more than 50 companies from across the South East and the UK. You can't beat going to the country and meeting potential customers face-to-face and that is something UKTI can help support you with; from grants to help with costs of flights and accommodation, to briefings with embassy officials to help arrange meetings with potential customers and distributors.

"Potential opportunities for business are promising, given Istanbul's status as a candidate city for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as plans for a third bridge over the Bosphorous, the construction of the world's biggest airport and a finance centre on a site larger than Canary Wharf. This is why a delegation of London companies recently returned from Istanbul as part of a UKTI-organised mission to explore the opportunities there. The 17 firms covering a range of sectors, from architecture and design to security and construction, were accompanied by the Deputy Mayor for London as well as experts from UKTI and the London Chamber of Commerce.

"Turkey is also a good gateway for surrounding markets, including Russia and Central Asia, and you can sell into these markets through your Turkish partners who have established contacts in those countries.

"Turkey is a very buoyant market. The economy is doing very well and it's a stable environment. In fact, the Istanbul economy is larger than 12 EU countries combined. Companies who can export should look at this market very seriously. If you have any inkling that it might be for you, then contact UKTI."

Lev's top tips for doing business in Turkey:
  • Forget the 'holiday destination' image of Turkey you may have in your mind. Turkey has changed immensely during the last ten years and it is now one of the strongest emerging markets out there.
  • English is widely spoken (fluency may vary), but learn just a few words in Turkish such as 'hello' and 'how are you' and you will be amazed the difference this will make.
  • Personal relationships are very important in business in Turkey so take your time to build trust and understanding. Always exchange pleasantries before getting down to business.
  • Remember that Turkey is a sophisticated Western market with an appetite for quality goods and services, so approach it with this in mind.
  • Target the main cities first - Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir. These are easily reachable and represent nearly one third of the population of Turkey.
  • Turkish businessmen are good negotiators so be prepared to bargain.
  • Be prepared to revisit the market. It is rare that you will be able to do business during your first visit.
  • Make sure you get advice from qualified professionals before entering formal contracts.
  • Find a local partner: finding and appointing the right partner (agent or distributer) who understands your product and has good contacts can make a big difference in succeeding in this market.  UKTI can help you to find the right people through its network of British embassies in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
  • Customs regulations in Turkey are amended frequently and may appear to be complex at first, so use either a freight company with experience of working in Turkey or take the advice of a recommended customs broker.
  • Use UKTI. We offer a range of courses and one-to-one support.

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