From the Farnham Castle – Intercultural Training Archives
Turkey has a land mass three times the size of the UK; a population exceeding 63 million of whom half are less than 25 years of age. It has a vibrant and dynamic economy and the British government regards Turkey as a priority export market, which merits support for targeted trade, and export campaigns.
More than 250 British companies have already established branches or affiliates in Turkey operating in sectors which range from, oil, gas and electric power supplies through aeronautical engineering, chemical production, pharmaceutical manufacture, health services, tourism, transportation and retail chain stores.
Aptitudes and Attitudes
The typical Turkish businessperson is hardworking, straightforward, and committed to the achievement of clear-cut targets and objectives based on well founded market research and long-term strategic planning.
They are well educated and fully up to date with e-commerce which they are developing at an exponential rate in order to gain access to a wider market of 200 million Turkish speaking citizens of the former Soviet Union who are settled in various republics across central Asia up to the borders of China.
There are 22 national television stations broadcasting throughout Turkey and there are 36 Nation-wide radio stations, hence everyone is well informed.
The “locomotive” for Turkey’s economic success is the textile industry with other industries also being developed at startling speed, particularly electrical machinery, that have already gained significant market share throughout Europe.
The earthquakes of 1999 were a great tragedy for Turkey but the aftermath of aid and support provided from neighbouring countries particularly Greece has done much to facilitate political and cultural bridges with the European Union. In December 1999 at Helsinki the EU formally accepted Turkey’s candidacy for membership. Customs harmonisation already exists and for most goods and services there is effectively free trade within Europe.
Do not be deterred by the fact that all Turks enjoy the banter of the Bazaar and expect their supplier to be adept and skilful in response. In the final analysis they want long-term reliable partnerships with suppliers they can trust to deliver quality products on time and in line with their needs.
This means you have to get to know your customers on a personal as well as a business basis. They may invite you to their homes. They will certainly invite you to restaurants. Reciprocal hospitality will be appreciated. Turkish people regard business as a part of life. Family requirements and dependent communities have the highest priority.
Turks enjoy being sociable and some tips for a good night out are – dress smartly, smile frequently, do not mix the national drink Raki (87¥ proof) with anything other than water. Say ‘Serefe’ (cheers) from time to time and eat everything put before you.
Language is not a barrier to business since most senior executives speak English (and probably two or three other languages as well,) but it is appreciated if the visitor uses a few courtesy greetings and phrases ‘Merhaba’ (hello) ‘Nasalsiniz’ (how are you?) ‘Tesekkur ederim’ (Thank you).
It is very easy for women to travel and conduct business in the main cities of Turkey and it is perfectly normal to meet Turkish women in senior management positions.
The constitution of Turkey is secular and the Turks tolerate and respect the faith and beliefs of others so that religion is never an issue when making contacts or friends.
Investment in Turkey is positively encouraged. A massive programme of privatisation is rolling forward covering telecommunications, petrochemicals, air transportation and many other industrial sectors.
Turkey is the hub nation and distribution centre between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.
Turkey is a worthwhile trading partner with an impressive economy in which the majority of enterprises are receptive to innovative products and ideas and welcome opportunities to collaborate with external companies in order to develop, supply sources, partnerships, technology transfers, and long-term business relations.
Author: Martin Byrne was a DTI Export Promoter for 2 years and is the principal of an export orientated marketing and business development consultancy. He is a regular speaker at Farnham Castle. Published May 2002
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