he Republic of Turkey, stretching from southeastern Europe across the Anatolian peninsula
in western Asia, has a textile manufacturing history dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Today,
Turkey remains one of the world’s most important textile manufacturing countries.
The textiles and apparel sector is a vital contributor to Turkey’s economy, accounting for
approximately 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It is the largest industry
in the country, constituting approximately 15 percent of manufacturing and about one-third of
manufactured exports. Textiles, apparel and carpet exports totaled approximately US$24 billion in
2007. Turkey has around 40,000 manufacturing companies and 1.9 million employees in the textile and
apparel sector. According to Turkey’s Export Promotion Center (IGEME), the country’s apparel
exports rank sixth globally, and home textile exports rank third.
The Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters Association reported the top five importers of
Turkey’s textile products in 2007 were Germany, Russia, Italy, the United States and Romania. The
top five importers of Turkey’s apparel products were Germany, England, France, the Netherlands and
the United States. According to IGEME, apparel and apparel accessories; other made-up textile
articles; cotton, cotton yarn and fabric; and man-made filaments were among the top 20 export
categories in 2008. Cotton, cotton yarn and fabric, and man-made staple fibers also were among the
top 20 import categories in 2008. Each of the aforementioned categories experienced a significant
decrease in percentage share of imports and exports in 2008 over 2007.
Cotton is Turkey’s chief textile product, with goods such as cotton fiber, yarn and woven
fabrics accounting for approximately 22 percent of total textile exports. Approximately 80 percent
of Turkey’s apparel exports are made of cotton. During the 2006-2007 period, Turkey ranked seventh
in world production of cotton, yielding around 820,000 tons. The irrigation of 1.7 million hectares
of land in Turkey – a component of the country’s Southeastern Anatolia Project, designed to expand
development in nine of the most impoverished provinces – has positively affected Turkey’s cotton
industry. According to IGEME, cotton production in the designated provinces now constitutes 49
percent of Turkey’s total cotton yield. The increase in cotton output has led to major investments
in ginning and yarn manufacturing, which is expected to result in even more development in
ready-to-wear apparel manufacturing and weaving.
However, according to a Bremen Cotton Report in late 2008, Turkey’s cotton production and
consumption are expected to decline in 2009, due in large part to a downturn in global cotton area
caused by growing competition from other crops.
Carpets, Kilims And Wool
According to IGEME, the Turkish people were the earliest creators of knotted carpets and
flat-woven rugs, or kilims, and these products are still made in virtually every part of Turkey,
particularly in rural areas, for non-commercial uses, with production estimated at 3.5 million
square meters per year. In 2007, the total value of hand-made carpets and kilims exported was about
US$186.4 million. Turkey also has a machine-made carpet manufacturing capacity of more than 190
billion square meters, with exports valued at more than US$849.6 million in 2007. In addition,
Turkey is a leading wool producer and the third-largest mohair producer globally.
Areas of Growth
Turkey’s production of textile polymers and chemicals has increased concurrently with its
growing textiles sector; consequently, it has been building large plants for polyamide, polyester
and acrylic fiber production. The country produces the eighth-largest volume of man-made fibers in
the world, at 1.2 million tons per year.
Turkey’s recent increase in GDP per capita has stimulated demand for technical textiles and
nonwovens products such as feminine hygiene items, diapers, medical textiles and disposable
products. Growth in the automotive, construction, filtration, agriculture and chemical industries
also has created demand. Turkey produces more than 110,000 metric tons of nonwovens per year. The
value of its technical textiles and nonwovens exports in 2007 was estimated to be greater than
US$1.5 billion. The country’s expanding technical textiles industry is expected to gain even more
importance in the next 15 to 20 years. Main exports are big bags, tire cord fabrics, nonwovens,
glass fibers and articles, technical fabrics, seat belts and high-tenacity yarns.
Lately, Turkey’s production of home textiles has increased significantly. With a home
textiles export value of approximately US$1.9 billion, Turkey ranks fourth globally as a supplier
of home textiles – primarily towels, bed linens, table linens, curtains, upholstery and blankets –
and second as a supplier to the European Union.
Turkey used to import almost all of its textile machinery, but recently it has begun
manufacturing its own, with many Turkish companies searching for joint ventures in this large
market. Most of Turkey’s machinery and equipment manufacturers are small to medium-sized companies
located in Istanbul and Izmir. In addition to supplying the domestic textile market with equipment,
the Turkish textile machinery industry has exported machinery and equipment worth US$162.8 million
in 2005, and 238.4 million in 2007. Turkey exports its machinery and equipment to around 135
countries, with major export markets including Germany, India, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Iran,
France, the United Kingdom and Syria.
According to the German Engineering Federation Textile Machinery Association, German textile
machinery exports to the Turkish market fell 62 percent between January and November 2008 compared
to the respective period in 2007. Spinning machinery saw the largest decrease, with shipments worth
only 55.36 million euros in 2008, compared to 283.36 million euros in 2007. Knitting machinery
exports declined from 64.6 million euros to 47.8 million euros, and finishing and weaving machinery
exports saw modest declines as well.
Turkey is currently in negotiations to join the European Union. The government launched the
Ninth Development Plan (2007-2013) to aid in this process and improve economic stability and social
equity as well as global competitiveness. The plan’s strategy includes a shift to high-value-added
industrial and service production structures. The plan’s support of the textile and apparel sector
includes promoting research and development activities and “following rapidly changing fashion
trends, influencing fashion, and product differentiation through fashion design.” The plan also
encourages activities aimed at training designers, creating trademarks, and advertising and
marketing Turkish exporters.