Investment Climate Statements for 2016 - Turkey

Executive Summary

Turkey has been an appealing market for investors over the last decade. It experienced strong economic growth on the back of the many positive economic and banking reforms it implemented between 2002 and 2007. After the global economic crisis of 2007, Turkey attracted substantial investment as a relatively stable emerging market with a promising trajectory of reforms and a strong, safe banking system. Over the last five years, progressive economic and democratic reforms seem to have slowed down or not been implemented. Growth has slowed since 2011, which presents a major challenge for Turkey to meet its ambitious goal of becoming a top ten economy in the world by 2023, the centenary of the founding of the Turkish republic.

The Turkish market is generally under-penetrated by U.S. businesses and presents many investment opportunities due to its solid economic fundamentals, although its investment climate is mixed. U.S. companies that are already established in the Turkish market have recently increased their investments in Turkey in certain sectors such as automotive, consumer goods, and defense. Other U.S. companies in other sectors and potential new market entrants, such as pharmaceuticals, generally did not make new investments in Turkey in 2015.

The most positive aspects of Turkey’s investment climate are its favorable demographics and prime geographical position that provides access to multiple regional markets. Turkey also has a relatively educated work force, developed infrastructure, and a resilient consumption-based economy. Turkey’s four percent GDP growth in 2015 outpaced most G-20 countries and was a sign of stability within a tumultuous region. This growth occurred despite the Turkish Lira losing 25% of its value in 2015.

The most negative aspects of Turkey’s investment climate are geopolitical risk and widespread concern over the deterioration of the rule of law. Many international observers remain concerned about transparency, corruption, and the appearance of reduced judicial independence. Over the past year, the government has marginalized critics and initiated takeovers of companies perceived to be controlled by political opponents based on allegations of providing material support for terrorism. The security situation has deteriorated to include multiple terrorist attacks, including in its political and business capitols of Ankara and Istanbul. Continued attacks would negatively affect consumer confidence and investor spending.

Key issues to watch include whether or not Turkey makes progress on promised economic structural reforms. In order to do so, government officials will need to make difficult political choices to liberalize the market to align with the goal of expanding Turkey’s EU Customs Union agreement. Another key issue to watch is the government’s increased push to require localization in manufacturing, healthcare, defense, and IT systems infrastructure. Other issues include tax reform and the independence of courts and the Central Bank. Hosting over three million refugees and political tensions with Russia will also create additional economic burdens on Turkey.

Table 1



Index or Rank

Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions index


66 of 168

World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”


55 of 189

Global Innovation Index


58 of 141

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)


$ 4.3 billion

BEA/Host government by Select USA

World Bank GNI per capita



1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Attitude toward Foreign Direct Investment

Turkey acknowledges that it needs to attract significant new foreign direct investment (FDI) to meet its ambitious development goals. As a result, Turkey has one of the most liberal legal regimes for FDI in the OECD. According to the Central Bank of Turkey, Balance of Payments, Turkey attracted $11.858 billion of FDI in 2015, more than the $8.576 billion in 2014. U.S. FDI in Turkey was $1.568 billion in 2015 and $334 million in 2014. In order to attract more FDI, Turkey needs to increase trade advocacy and export promotion efforts, as well as access to credit, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses involved in high value-added goods and services. Turkey must also better enforce international trade rules, ensure the transparency and timely execution of judicial orders, increase engagement with foreign investors on policy issues, and pursue policies to promote strong, sustainable, and balanced growth.

A strong banking sector, tight fiscal controls, efforts to reduce the size of the informal economy, increasing flexibility of the labor market, improving skills of workers, and continuing privatization of state economic enterprises will continue to boost the investment environment in Turkey. Transactions completed under the Turkish privatization program generated $2 billion in 2015. The Turkish government is committed to continuing the privatization process despite the contraction in global capital flows.

Most sectors that are open to the Turkish private sector are also open to foreign participation and investment. All investors, regardless of nationality, face some challenges: excessive bureaucracy, a slow judicial system, high and inconsistently applied taxes, weaknesses in corporate governance, unpredictable decisions made at the local government level, and frequent changes in the legal and regulatory environment. The Parliament amended the Law of Obligations (debt regulations), and a new Commercial Code became effective in July 2012. Structural reforms that will create a more transparent, equal, fair, and modern investment and business environment remain stalled. Venture capital and angel investing are still relatively new in Turkey, but legislation should continue to facilitate greater development of these financing opportunities.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In the past three years, Turkey has not conducted an investment policy review through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Turkey’s last investment policy review through the World Trade Organization (WTO) was conducted on May 6th, 2012. Turkey has not conducted an investment policy review through the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Over the past year, Turkey has cooperated with the World Bank to produce several reports on the investment climate in general that can be found at:

Laws/Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

Turkey’s investment legislation is simple and complies with international standards, while it offers equal treatment for all investors. The New Turkish Commercial Code No. 6102 (“New TCC”) was published in the Official Gazette on February 14, 2011. The backbone of the investment legislation is made up of the Encouragement of Investments and Employment Law No. 5084, Foreign Direct Investments Law No. 4875, international treaties and various laws and related sub-regulations on the promotion of sectorial investments. Regulations related to M&A include: 1) Turkish Code of Obligations: Article 202 and Article 203, b) Turkish Commercial Code: Articles 134-158, c) Execution and Bankruptcy Law: Article 280, d) Law on the Procedures for the Collection of Public Receivables: Article 30, and e) Law on Competition: Article 7.

Although U.S. investors have not been directly affected to date, there is an increased perception that the government is willing to use its executive authority to interfere in the court system in ways that could affect foreign investors. See Section 3, Expropriation and Compensation for more specific examples.

Business Registration

Turkey’s Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency web site is the hub where both foreigners and locals can register their businesses. It is clear and easy to use, with information about legislation and company establishment. (

The Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT) is the official organization for promoting Turkey’s investment opportunities to the global business community and providing assistance to investors before, during and after their entry into Turkey.

The conditions for setting up a business and share transfer are the same as those applied to local investors. International investors may establish any form of company set out in the Turkish Commercial Code (TCC), which offers a corporate governance approach that meets international standards, fosters private equity and public offering activities, creates transparency in managing operations, and aligns the Turkish business environment with EU legislation as well as with the EU accession process.

Turkey defines micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises according to Decision No. 2012/3834 of the Official Gazette dated November 4, 2012;

  1. Micro-sized enterprises: Less than 10 employees annually and less than 1 million Turkish lira of net annual sales or financial statement.
  2. Small-sized enterprises: Less than 50 employees annually and less than 8 million Turkish lira of net annual sales or financial statement.
  3. Medium-sized enterprises: Less than 250 employees annually and less than 40 million Turkish lira of net annual sales or financial statement.

Industrial Promotion

The government has programs to attract investment to help Turkey achieve its 2023 development goals. The Turkish Ministry of Economy ( offers an investment incentive program to prioritize investment sectors regardless of the region of investment. The following sectors have government programs to attract investment through existing regional incentives: maritime freight or passenger transport; railway investments; test centers, such as wind tunnels to support automotive, aerospace or defense industry; tourism accommodations; international fairgrounds; production of biotechnological drugs; defense, aviation and aerospace; mine extraction or processing; schools; manufacturing products from R&D subsidized by the government; automotive engines, parts, and electronics; and electric production.

In 2015, the GOT expanded the incentive program it started in 2012 to tourism, health tourism, manufacturing SMEs, labor and women’s labor, farmers, and industries depending on R&D. Additionally, incentives granted industrialists a 6% savings on their raw and intermediately goods imports. Regional incentives also continued and the GOT launched incentives to support large scale and strategic investments including VAT and customs taxes exemption.

Turkey’s Industrial Strategy announced by the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology (MSIT) identifies key areas to increase Turkey’s competitiveness and productivity and targets aimed at transforming Turkey into a technology base for manufacturing of medium- to high-technology products. The document identifies the following areas as major potential drivers of the Turkish economy that can help increase exports and FDI growth: innovation-led productivity, increasing production of medium- and high-technology goods, increasing capital for knowledge-intensive sectors, creation of a stronger knowledge-based economy, and a well-educated and highly-qualified work force.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There are no general (statutory, de facto, or otherwise) limits on foreign ownership or control; Turkey's regulatory environment is extremely business-friendly. Investors can establish a business in Turkey irrespective of nationality, or place of residence. There are no sector-specific restrictions that discriminate against market access, as they are prohibited by WTO Regulations. There are some limitations on real estate acquisition by the foreigners within the principle of reciprocity which was recently relaxed with some amendments to the Land Registry Law numbered 2644.

Privatization Program

Turkey has privatized many of its public assets in recent years, from the petro-chemical industry to telecommunications. The current privatization portfolio contains the National Lottery Administration (Milli Piyango), and state enterprises in the maritime, mining, textile, transportation, energy, and banking sectors. Foreign investors are eligible to participate in these privatization programs. Turkey utilizes a public bidding process where the highest bidder wins. It is easy to understand and is transparent, with large scale bids broadcast via media. In 2015 Turkey generated $2 billion from privatizations including block sales, sales and transfers, and public offerings.

Screening of FDI

Turkey does not screen, review, or approve Foreign Direct Investments specifically. But regulatory and supervisory authorities were established in order to regulate different types of markets. Some of the important entities in Turkey are as follows: Competition Authority; Energy Market Regulation Authority; Banking Regulation and Supervision Authority; Information and Communication Technologies Authority; Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Alcoholic Beverages Market Regulation Board; Privatization Administration; Public Procurement Authority; Sugar Authority; Radio and Television Supreme Council; and Public Oversight, Accounting and Auditing Standards Authority.

Some of the aforementioned authorities screen as needed without discrimination, primarily for tax audits. Screening mechanisms are executed to maintain fair competition and for other economic benefits. If an investment fails review, possible outcomes can vary from a notice to cure, which allows for a specific period of time to correct the problem, to penalty fees. The Turkish judicial system allows for appeals of any administrative decision, including tax courts that deal with tax disputes.

Competition Law

The Competition Authority is the sole authority on competition issues in Turkey and deals only with the private sector. Public institutions are exempt from its authority. (

2. Conversion and Transfer Policies

Foreign Exchange

Turkish law guarantees the free transfer of profits, fees, and royalties, and repatriation of capital. This guarantee is reflected in Turkey's 1990 Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the United States, which mandates unrestricted and prompt transfer in a freely-usable currency at a legal market-clearing rate for all investment-related funds. There is no difficulty in obtaining foreign exchange, and there are no foreign-exchange restrictions. Funds associated with any form of investment can be freely converted into any world currency. The exchange rate is determined by a free floating exchange rate.

Remittance Policies

In Turkey, there have been no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies. There are also no time limitations on remittances. Wait periods for dividends, return on investment, interest and principal on private foreign debt, lease payments, royalties, and management fees do not exceed 60 days. There are no limitations on the inflow or outflow of funds for remittances of profits or revenue. Turkey does not engage in currency manipulation tactics. Turkey is not subject to a compliance program, but is a country of primary concern to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF first included Turkey in its Public Statement in 2010, for Turkey’s lack of adequate terrorism financing legislation and the lack of a legal framework within which to freeze terrorist assets. In 2013, Turkey took legislative action to improve its compliance with international standards. Based upon an analysis of Turkey’s overall legislative framework, together with evidence of its implementation over time, in June 2014, FATF removed Turkey from its Public Statement.

3. Expropriation and Compensation

Under the U.S.-Turkey BIT, expropriation can only occur in accordance with due process of law, can only be for a public purpose, and must be non-discriminatory. Compensation must be prompt, adequate, and effective. The BIT ensures U.S. investors have full access to Turkey’s local courts and the ability to take the host government directly to third-party international binding arbitration to settle investment disputes. There is also a provision for state-to-state dispute settlement.

The GOT occasionally expropriates private real property for public works or for state industrial projects. The GOT agency expropriating the property negotiates the purchase price. If owners of the property do not agree with the proposed price, they are able to challenge the expropriation in court and ask for additional compensation. There are no outstanding expropriation or nationalization cases for U.S. firms.

Although there is not a pattern of discrimination against U.S. firms, the GOT aggressively targeted businesses, banks, media outlets, mining and energy companies with alleged ties to the outlawed Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO) in 2015. In the first three months of 2016, Koza Ipek, a media company was shuttered by government appointed-trustees, the government-appointed managers of Bank Asya announced plans to liquidate it if no buyer is found, and the Turkish National Police raided two large industrial conglomerates Boydak Holding and Naksan Holding.

4. Dispute Settlement

Legal System, Specialized Courts, Judicial Independence, Judgments of Foreign Courts

Turkey’s legal system provides means for enforcing property and contractual rights, and there are written commercial and bankruptcy laws. Turkey’s court system, however, is overburdened, which sometimes results in slow decisions and judges lacking sufficient time to grasp complex issues. Judgments of foreign courts, under certain circumstances, need to be upheld by local courts before they are accepted and enforced. Monetary judgments are usually made in local currency, but there are provisions for incorporating exchange rate differentials in claims. The Turkish Government is working on judiciary reform that aims at shortening the duration of judicial proceedings and bringing greater efficiency to the Turkish judiciary system through specialized courts (such as Intellectual Property Rights courts, a number of which already exist in Turkey). Recent developments reinforce the Turkish judicial system’s need to undertake significant reforms to adopt fair, democratic and unbiased standards. Poorly implemented rule of law and the GOT’s attempts to control court rulings remain the biggest obstacles in investment disputes.

An example of the deterioration of the rule of law was the government’s slow action to abide by court orders to lift a ban on Twitter and YouTube in 2014. This showed the GOT’s occasional lack of adherence to its own laws which some critics alleged showed the power of the ruling party.

Turkey is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and is a signatory of the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Turkey ratified the Convention of the Multinational Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in 1987. There are no arbitration cases involving a U.S. company pending before ICSID. The U.S.-Turkey BIT, which entered into force in 1990, affords protection to U.S. investments in Turkey by providing certain mutual guarantees and creating a more stable and predictable legal framework for U.S. investors.


Turkey has a bankruptcy law based on the Execution and Bankruptcy Code No. 2004 (the "EBL"), published in the Official Gazette on June 19, 1932 and numbered 2128. Turkey criminalizes bankruptcy. The World Bank’s Doing Business Report gave Turkey a rank of 124 out of 189 countries for ease of resolving insolvency. (

Investment Disputes

There is limited data about investment disputes available to the Embassy economic team, with only three known cases. Over the last 15 years, the government has a mixed record of handling investment disputes through international arbitration, with one case resulting in a $30 million payment and the other resulting in no payment. Within the past 10 years, there has been one investment dispute that was resolved with Embassy advocacy.

International Arbitration

The International Arbitration Law, based on the UNCITRAL model law, was adopted in Turkey in 2001. Local courts accept binding international arbitration of investment disputes between foreign investors and the state. In practice, however, Turkish courts have on occasion failed to uphold an international arbitration ruling involving private companies and have favored Turkish firms. There are two main arbitration bodies in Turkey: the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey ( and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce ( Most commercial disputes can be settled through arbitration, including disputes regarding public services. Parties decide the arbitration procedure, set the arbitration rules, and select the language of the proceedings.

The Istanbul Arbitration Center was established in October 2015 as an independent, neutral, and impartial institution to mediate both domestic and international disputes through fast track arbitration, emergency arbitrator, and appointments for ad hoc procedures. Its awards are binding and subject to international enforcement. (

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Turkey has been a party to the New York Convention since 1992. Foreign arbitral awards will be enforced if the country of origin of the award is a New York Convention state, if the dispute is commercial under Turkish law, and as long as none of the grounds under article V of the New York Convention are proved by the opposing party.

Duration of Dispute Resolution – Local Courts

Although infrequent, investment and commercial dispute resolutions can take years. Generally,
there have been recent increases in trade safeguard measures. Local courts accept binding international arbitration of investment disputes between foreign investors and the state. In practice, however, Turkish courts have on occasion failed to uphold an international arbitration ruling involving private companies and have favored Turkish firms.

5. Performance Requirements and Investment Incentives


Turkey is a party to the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) and it has not notified the WTO of any measures that are inconsistent with its obligations.

U.S. companies in certain sectors claim that Turkey has recently introduced some localization measures and minimum local content requirements that are inconsistent with its TRIMs obligations. See Section 5 Performance Requirements for more information.

Investment Incentives

Turkey’s regional incentives program divides various regions of the country into one of six different zones, providing the following benefits to investors: corporate tax privilege; customs tax exemption; Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption; employer’s share insurance contributions support; allocation of investment locations; income tax withholding support; land allocation; and government support for credit interests. The program was launched in 2012 and more detailed information can be found at the Ministry of Economy's incentives website:

The GOT introduced the latest incentive package in April 2015, which supports production and employment and is estimated to cost approximately $7.5 billion. It aims to undertake structural transformation into high-tech production and qualitative transformation of human capital. This is in addition to 2012 incentives that give priority to high-tech, high-value-added, globally competitive sectors and put in place new regional incentive programs to reduce regional economic disparities and increase competitiveness. The new investment incentives “tiered” system provides greater incentives to invest in less developed parts of the country. They are designed to encourage investments with the potential to reduce dependency on the importation of intermediate goods vital to the country’s strategic sectors. Its primary objectives are to reduce the current account deficit, boost investment support for lesser developed regions, increase the level of support instruments, promote clustering activities, and to support investments that will create the transfer of technology. The map and explanation of the program can be found at: or

Research and Development

Foreign firms can participate if the research and development (R&D) is conducted in Turkey. Turkey pays close attention to the impact micro-economic factors have on business development and growth and is seeking to foster entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization (KOSGEB), the Turkish Government provides various incentives for innovative ideas and cutting-edge technologies, in addition to providing SMEs easier access to medium and long-term funds. There are also a number of technology development zones (TDZs) in Turkey where entrepreneurs are given assistance in commercializing business ideas. The Turkish Government provides support to TDZs, including infrastructure and facilities, exemption from income and corporate taxes for profits derived from software and R&D activities, exemption from all taxes for the wages of researchers, software, and R&D personnel employed within the TDZVAT, and corporate tax exemptions for IT specific sectors, and customs and duties exemptions.

Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) has special programs for entrepreneurs in the technology sector, and the Turkish Technology Development Foundation (TTGV) has programs that provide capital loans for R&D projects and/or cover R&D-related expenses. Projects eligible for such incentives include concept development, technological research, technical feasibility research, laboratory studies to transform concept into design, design and sketching studies, prototype production, construction of pilot facilities, test production, patent and license studies, and activities related to post-scale problems stemming from product design. TUBITAK also has a Technology Transfer Office Support Program, which provides grants to establish Technology Transfer Offices (TTO) in Turkey.

Performance Requirements

The government mandates a local employment ratio of ten Turks per foreign worker. These schemes do not apply equally to senior management and boards of directors, but their numbers are included in the overall local employment calculations. Foreign legal firms are forbidden from working in Turkey except as consultants; they cannot directly represent clients and must partner with a local law firm. There are not onerous visa, residence, work permits or similar requirements inhibiting mobility of foreign investors and their employees. There are no known government-imposed conditions on permissions to invest, including tariff and non-tariff barriers.

There are no performance requirements imposed as a condition for establishing, maintaining, or expanding investment in Turkey. GOT requirements for disclosure of proprietary information as part of the regulatory approval process are consistent with internationally accepted practices. Enterprises with foreign capital must send their activity report submitted to shareholders, their auditor’s report, and their balance sheets to the Turkish Treasury’s Foreign Investment Directorate every year by May.

With the exceptions noted above under “Openness to Foreign Investment” and below under “Transparency of the Regulatory System,” Turkey grants all rights, incentives, exemptions, and privileges available to national businesses to foreign business on a most-favored-nation (MFN) basis. U.S. and other foreign firms can participate in government-financed and/or subsidized research and development programs on a national treatment basis.

Offsets are an important aspect of Turkey’s military procurement, and offset guidelines have been modified to encourage direct investment and technology transfer. In February 2014, Parliament passed legislation requiring the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology (MSIT) to establish a framework to incorporate civilian offsets into large government procurement contracts. The Ministry of Health (MOH) established an office to examine how offsets could be incorporated into new contracts. While all the regulations are still pending, the law suggests that for public contracts above $5 million, companies must invest up to 50 percent of contract value in Turkey and "add value" to the sector. In general, labor, health and safety laws do not distort or impede investment, although legal restrictions on discharging employees may provide a disincentive to labor-intensive activity in the formal economy.

Data Storage

There are no requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to surveillance for encryption.

The recently amended Law #6493 on Payment and Security Systems, Payment Services and e-money Institutions, however, does require financial institutions to establish servers in Turkey. Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervision Board (BDDK) is the authority that issues business licenses as long as companies 1) localize their IT systems in Turkey, and 2) keep the original data, not copies, in Turkey.

Turkey enacted a new law on Personal Data Protection in April 2016. The law regulates all operations performed upon personal data including obtaining, recording, storage, and transfer to third parties or abroad. There will be a six month transition period before violations are enforced on new data transactions. For all data previously processed before the law went into effect, there will be a two year transition period. After two years, all data will be rendered either compliant with new legislation requirements or they will be erased or anonymized. All businesses are urged to assess a status analysis of how they currently collect and store data of their employees, customers, and partners to determine vulnerabilities and risks in regard to legal obligations. Secondly, businesses should conduct a compliance analysis to include the use of legal consent forms, staff training, data flow adjustments, security measures to protect data, and revised contractual obligations of those collecting data on a company’s behalf.

A Personal Data Protection Authority with 200 personnel will be established to ensure compliance, lead necessary inspections by ex officio or upon complaint, and ensure that sanctions are properly imposed on the parties who fail to comply. Punishments for violating the law range from one to four years imprisonment or fines of 5,000 to 1,000,000 Turkish Lira.

6. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Secured interests in property, both movable and real, are recognized and enforced, and there is a reliable system of recording such security interests. For example, there is a land registry office where real estate is registered. Turkey's legal system protects and facilitates acquisition and disposal of property rights, including land, buildings, and mortgages, although some parties have complained that the courts are slow to render decisions and are susceptible to external influence (see "Dispute Settlement"). Turkey's first mortgage law was adopted in 2007.

The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization enacted a law on title-deed registration in 2012 removing the previous requirement that foreign purchasers of real estate in Turkey had to be in partnership with a Turkish individual or company that owns at least a 50 percent share in the property, meaning foreigners can now own their own land. The law is also much more flexible in allowing international companies to purchase real property. The new law also increases the upper limit on real estate purchases by foreign individuals to 30 hectares and allows further increases up to 60 hectares with permission from the Council of Ministers. In order to ensure that land has a clear title, interested parties may inquire through the General Directorate of Land and Cadastre (

Intellectual Property Rights

Turkey's legal structure and enforcement for IPR infringement are mediocre and both need improvement. There has been little to no progress on IPR issues with increasing complaints from stakeholders regarding the level of IPR protection and market access for IPR-reliant goods in 2015. Turkey has for years failed to pass modernizing amendments to its patent, trademark and copyright laws, and also has failed to re-institute criminal penalties for patent and trademark violations that were vacated by the Constitutional Court in 2008. In 2015, Turkey was listed on USTR's Special 301 Report as a Watch List country. Turkey has limited capacity to enforce existing IPR protection laws, though the Turkish National Police enforce the laws on the books. Customs officers do not have ex officio authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods. The rights holder must draft a declaration and then is charged for paying for storage and destruction of the goods. Therefore, confiscation of the goods is a serious problem in Turkey due to difficulties in destroying the goods, lack of appropriate provisions in the current legislation, long periods of storage obligation due to lengthy prosecution processes, and very high warehouse and security costs paid for by the plaintiff. As a result, trademark owners often prefer to leave counterfeit goods in the custody of infringers, even if that enables the infringers to commercially trade these goods. Counterfeit goods are prevalent in the local market, co-located with registered goods. Software piracy is also high.

Additionally, the practice of issuing search and seizure warrants varies considerably. IP courts and specialized IP judges only exist in major cities. Outside these areas the application for a search warrant has to be filed at a regular criminal court (Court of Peace) and/or with a regular prosecutor. The Courts of Peace are very reluctant to issue search warrants. Although by law “reasonable doubt” is adequate grounds for issuing a search and seizure order, judges often set additional requirements. These may include supporting documentation, photographs, and even witness testimony, which risks exposing companies’ intelligence sources. In some regions Courts of Peace Judges never grant search warrants, for example at the coastal zone area covering the popular tourist destinations. Overall, it is difficult for investors to enforce their rights and IP protections are deteriorating. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at

Resources for Rights Holders

Embassy point of contact:
Title: Economic Specialist
Telephone Number: +90 312 457 7109
Email Address:

Local American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham):
American Business Forum in Turkey (ABFT)
Buyukdere Cad. No. 201
Levent Loft A55 Levent - Istanbul
Tel : +90 212 243 35 11
Fax : +90 212 243 35 17

Local lawyers list:

7. Transparency of the Regulatory System

The GOT has adopted policies and laws that, in principle, should foster competition and transparency. Accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures appear to be consistent with international norms, including standards set forth by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), EU, and the OECD. Publicly traded companies adhere to international accounting standards and are audited by well-respected companies such as KPMG. All court cases are open to the public unless a judge decides otherwise, which is normally only under exceptional circumstances of a sensitive criminal case, not civil proceedings. Copies of draft bills are generally made available to the public by posting them to the websites of the relevant ministry, Parliament, or Official Gazette, although discussion and comments are reserved for members of Parliament. Foreign companies in several sectors, however, claim that regulations are sometimes applied in a nontransparent manner.

8. Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The Turkish Government strongly encourages portfolio investment. An effective regulatory system exists to encourage and facilitate portfolio investment. There is sufficient liquidity in the markets to enter and exit sizeable positions. Existing policies facilitate the free flow of financial resources into the product and factor markets. The government respects IMF Article VIII by refraining from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions. Credit is allocated on market terms. Foreign investors are able to get credit on the local market. The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments.

Money and Banking System, Hostile Takeovers

The Turkish banking sector is healthy. The estimated total assets of the country's largest banks is as follows as of September 30, 2015: Ziraat Bankasi A.S. $98.86 billion, Is Bankasi – $92.54 billion Garanti – $86.17 billion’ Akbank $78.06, Yapi Kredi Bankasi $76.77; According to financial sector contacts, for 2015 the share of non-performing loans in the sector was approximately 3%. Turkey has a central bank system. The only requirements for a foreigner to open a bank account in Turkey are a copy of their passport and either an ID number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a Turkish Tax ID number.

There are no regulations specifically naming a method for acquiring control of a public company as a hostile bid. However, the regulations concerning takeover bids can be considered a major method for hostile bids, as they allow acquisition of the shares of a company without the collaboration of its management. In practice, hostile bids are not common, as most public companies in Turkey are controlled by a single shareholder or a small group of shareholders. (However, the number of hostile bids may increase in the future, mainly due to private equity investments or exits from them. In addition, the increasing number of listed companies and their complex shareholder composition may increase hostile bids.)

The Turkish Government has taken a number of important steps in recent years to strengthen and better regulate the banking system. A 2005 revision of the Banking Law brought tighter bank regulation, notably by broadening the range of expertise inspectors can draw on when conducting on-site inspections. The Turkish Government adopted a framework Capital Markets Law in 2012, aimed at bringing greater corporate accountability, protection of minority-shareholders, and financial statement transparency. Implementing legislation is still in progress.

The independent Banking and Regulation Supervision Agency (BRSA) monitors and supervises Turkey’s banks. The BRSA is headed by a board whose seven members are appointed for six-year terms. In addition, bank deposits are protected by an independent deposit insurance agency, the State Deposit Insurance Fund (SDIF). Because of historically high local borrowing costs and short repayment periods, foreign and local firms have frequently sought credit from international markets to finance their activities.

9. Competition from State-Owned Enterprises

As of 2015, the sectors with active SOEs are mining, banking, and transportation, although there is not a published list of SOEs. The government of Turkey (GOT) continues to make substantial progress on privatization efforts – especially in the last decade. Of 188 companies the state once owned, 50 are fully privatized and 128 are partially privatized. With an increasing trend, shares of state-owned enterprises (SOE) in the communications, energy, mining, and transportation industries are being sold off. In 2013, Turk Telekom offered an additional 6.68% ownership stake to the public – dropping state control to about 30%. The GOT recently privatized 21 companies, two ports, and 10 roadways. GOT has shelved plans to increase private ownership of Halkbank and Turkish Airlines, bulwarks of state-ownership. More information about privatization initiatives can be found at the Prime Ministry’s Privatization Administration’s website at: Among the SOEs that remain, allegations of unfair practices are minimal, and the Embassy is not aware of any ongoing complaints by U.S. firms. Turkey is not a country party to the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement.

In 2016, OECD released a report titled Broadening the Ownership of State-Owned Enterprises: A Comparison of Governance Practices that included case studies on the privatization of Halkbank and Turk Telekom. It can be read here:

OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs

Turkey is a member of the OECD Working Party on State Ownership and Privatization Practices, and OECD’s compliance regulations and new laws enacted in 2012 by the Turkish Competitive Authority closely govern SOE operations. In 2015 Antalya Leaders’ Summit, G20 Leaders endorsed the new global standard on corporate governance that will help policy makers to evaluate and improve their national corporate governance frameworks with a view to promote market-based financing and to boost long-term investment.

The G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance represent a shared understanding with respect to corporate governance standards and practices in areas such as transparency, disclosure, accountability, board oversight, shareholder rights and the role of key stakeholders. They also provide recommendations for national policymakers on executive remuneration, the behavior of institutional investors and how stock markets should function.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Turkey does not have a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

10. Responsible Business Conduct

In Turkey, responsible business conduct (RBC) is gaining traction and more is being expected of companies, particularly in the past few years. Reforms carried out as part of the EU harmonization process have had a positive effect on laws governing Turkish associations, especially non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Turkey has not yet established a central coordinating office or information agency to assist companies in their social efforts, and the topic of RBC is handled by the various ministries. U.S. companies, especially in the technology sector, have targeted RBC activities towards improving education in Turkey.

NGOs that are active in the economic sector, such as the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) and the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSIAD), issue regular reports and studies, and hold events aimed at encouraging Turkish companies to become involved in policy issues. In addition to influencing the political process, these two NGOs also assist their members in their civic engagement. The Business Council for Sustainable Development Turkey ( ) and the Corporate Social Responsibility Association in Turkey (, founded in 2005, are two associations devoted exclusively to issues of responsible business conduct. The Turkish Ethical Values Center Foundation ( ), the Private Sector Volunteers Association ( and the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey ( ) play an important role in promoting RBC.

11. Political Violence

Turkey regularly experienced politically-motivated violence, ranging from police response to civil demonstrations (which resulted in eight confirmed deaths during the 2013 Gezi Park protests), to unidentified attacks on opposition-party offices (hundreds of Peoples’ Democratic Party offices were attacked and some were burned between the June and November elections in 2015), or mob attacks on media outlets (such as Hurriyet and Sabah in the fall of 2015). Cases were not uncommon of individuals who were caught in the vicinity of violence and were injured or detained by law enforcement officials.

Since the July 2015 collapse of the cessation of hostilities between the government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) [also operating as the Kurdistan People's Congress (KCK), Kongra Gel (KGK), or via splinter groups like the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK)], violence between government security forces and terrorist groups has also threatened civilians in Turkey. TAK claimed responsibility for the December 23 mortar attack against Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, which killed one, injured one, and damaged several passenger planes. As a result of government operations aimed at destroying the PKK in the southeast, the government claimed it has “neutralized” (killed or detained) 5,359 PKK fighters and lost 355 security forces, while human rights groups claimed more than 200 civilians have also been killed. The GOT-PKK truce lasted from early 2013 until July 2015, when PKK-related terrorist events increased throughout Turkey.

Other U.S.-designated terrorist organizations such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the indigenous Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front (DHKP/C), and TAK also increased attacks in Turkey in 2015. Individuals allegedly acting under the influence of ISIL conducted several suicide terror attacks, including simultaneous explosions at pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) offices in Mersin and Adana on May 18, 2015, which injured three people. On June 5, the government claimed ISIL conducted a double bombing at an HDP election rally in Diyarbakir that killed five persons and wounded 399. On July 20, a suicide bombing attributed to ISIL in the southeastern town of Suruc killed 33 persons and injured more than 100. On October 10, government officials again attributed ISIL operatives for twin explosions at a peace rally in Ankara that killed at least 103 and wounded hundreds, the worst terrorist attack in the country’s modern history.

The indigenous terrorist organization DHKP/C, established in the 1970s and designated by the U.S. in 1997, twice attacked U.S. Consulate Istanbul and Turkish police there. The DHKP/C has stated its intention to commit further attacks against the United States, NATO, and Turkey. On March 31, 2015, a DHKP/C cell stormed Istanbul’s Caglayan Court House and took a lead prosecutor hostage. Security forces killed the hostage takers and the prosecutor died during the rescue attempt. In addition, violent extremists associated with other terrorist groups have transited Turkey en route to Syria.

There have also been instances of violence against religious missionaries and others perceived as proselytizing for a non-Islamic religion in Turkey. Perpetrators have threatened and assaulted Christian and Jewish individuals, groups, and places of worship, including several high-profile murders over the last decade. Anti-Israeli sentiment remains high following Israel's 2008 Gaza offensive.

12. Corruption

Corruption remains a serious concern, a reality reflected in Turkey’s sliding score in recent years in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index, where it ranked 66 of 168 countries and territories around the world in 2015. Government mechanisms to investigate and punish alleged abuse and corruption by state officials remained inadequate, and impunity remained a problem. Though independent in principle, the judiciary remained prone to government, and particularly executive branch, influence, including with respect to the investigation and prosecution of major corruption cases. See the Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for more details.

The government does not actively encourage private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prohibit bribery of public officials. Turkey is a participant in regional anti-corruption initiatives, specifically co-heading the G-20 Anti-Corruption working group with the United States. Locally, the Prime Ministry Inspection Board and a number of other state institutions are responsible for combating corruption (more below), including Deputy Prime Minister Lutfi Elvan who presides over an anti-corruption commission.

Public procurement reforms were designed in Turkey to make procurement more transparent and less susceptible to political interference, including through the establishment of an independent public procurement board with the power to void contracts. Critics claim, however, that government officials have continued to award large contracts to firms friendly with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Turkish legislation outlaws bribery, but enforcement is uneven. Turkey’s Criminal Code makes it unlawful to promise or to give any advantage to foreign government officials in exchange for their assistance in providing improper advantage in the conduct of international business. In the event that such a crime benefits any legal entity, such legal entity shall be subject to certain legal sanctions.

The provisions of the Criminal Law regarding bribing of foreign governmental officials are consistent with the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 of the United States (FCPA). There are, however, a number of differences between Turkish law and the FCPA. For example, there is not an exception under Turkish law for payments to facilitate or expedite performance of a “routine governmental action” in terms of the FCPA. Another difference is that the FCPA does not provide for punishment by imprisonment, while the Turkish law provides for punishment by imprisonment from four to 12 years. The Prime Ministry’s Inspection Board, which advises the Corruption Investigations Committee, is responsible for investigating major corruption cases brought to its attention by the Committee. Nearly every state agency has its own inspector corps responsible for investigating internal corruption. The Parliament can establish investigative commissions to examine corruption allegations concerning cabinet ministers; a majority vote is needed to send these cases to the Supreme Court for further action.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Turkey ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Public Officials and passed implementing legislation in 2003 to provide that bribes of foreign officials, as well as domestic, are illegal. In 2006, Turkey’s Parliament ratified the UN Convention against Corruption.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

  • ORGANIZATION: Prime Ministry Inspection Board
  • ADDRESS: Basbakanlik Merkez Bina Zemin Kat No:11 Bakanliklar/ANKARA
  • TELEPHONE NUMBER: Phone : +90 312 422 24 00 Fax : +90 312 422 24 99

Contact at "watchdog" organization:

  • NAME: M. Nihat Omeroglu
  • TITLE: Chief Ombudsman
  • ORGANIZATION: The Ombudsman Institution
  • ADDRESS: Kavaklidere Mah. Nevzat Tandogan Caddesi No:4 Cankaya ANKARA
  • TELEPHONE NUMBER: +90 312 465 22 00

Contact at "watchdog" organization:

  • NAME: Gul Okutucu
  • TITLE: General Coordinator
  • ORGANIZATION: Transparency International –Turkey Branch
  • ADDRESS: 19 Mayis Mah. Operatör Raif Bey Sok. Niyazi Bey Apt. 30/5, Sisli, ISTANBUL
  • TELEPHONE NUMBER: +90 212 240 5281

13. Bilateral Investment Agreements

Bilateral Taxation Treaties

Since 1962, Turkey has negotiated and signed agreements for the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments. As of April 2015, Turkey has 82 bilateral investment agreements in force with: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

14. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) offers a full range of programs in Turkey, including political risk insurance for U.S. investors, under its bilateral agreement with Turkey. OPIC is also active in financing private investment projects implemented by U.S. investors in Turkey. Currently, OPIC is looking to support increased lending for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Turkey. Small- and medium-sized U.S. investors in Turkey are also eligible to utilize the Small Business Center facility at OPIC, offering OPIC finance and insurance support on an expedited basis for loans from $100,000 to $10 million. In 1987, Turkey became a member of the Multinational Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

15. Labor

Turkey has a population of 77.7 million, with 24 percent under the age of 14 as of 2015. Over 92 percent of the population lives in urban areas. Official figures put the labor force at 29.6 million in 2015. Approximately one fifth works in agriculture while another fifth works in industrial sectors. The country retains a significant informal sector. In 2015, the official unemployment rate rose to 10.3 percent (from 9.9 percent in 2014), with 18.5 percent unemployment among those 15-24 years old. Turkey provides twelve years of free, compulsory education to children of both sexes in state schools. Authorities continue to grapple with facilitating legal employment for working-age Syrians, a major subset of the over 2.5 million displaced Syrian men, women, and children—unknown numbers of which were working informally—in the country at the end of 2015.

Turkey has an abundance of unskilled and semi-skilled labor, and vocational training schools exist at the high school level. There remains a shortage of high-tech workers. Individual high-tech firms, both local and foreign-owned, typically conduct their own training programs. The Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology has launched a program with TOBB to provide skilled laborers to meet manufacturing sector needs. Turkey has also undertaken a significant expansion of university programs, building dozens of new colleges and universities over the last decade.

The use of subcontracted workers for jobs not temporary in nature remained common, including by firms executing contracts for the state. Generally ineligible for equal benefits or collective bargaining rights, subcontracted workers—often hired via revolving contracts of less than a year’s duration— remained vulnerable to sudden termination by employers and, in some cases, poor working conditions. Employers typically utilized subcontracted workers to minimize salary/benefits expenditures and, according to critics, to prevent unionization of employees.

The law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. The government generally respected these rights with significant legal and practical restrictions. A minimum of seven workers is required to establish a trade union without prior approval. To become a bargaining agent, a union must represent 40 percent of the employees at a given work site and one percent of all workers in that particular industry. Certain public employees, such as senior officials, magistrates, members of the armed forces, and police, cannot form unions. Nonunionized workers, such as migrants, domestic servants, and those in the informal economy, are also not covered by collective bargaining laws.

Unionization rates generally remain low. Independent labor unions—distinct from their government-friendly counterpart unions—reported that employers continued to use threats, violence, and layoffs in unionized workplaces across sectors. Service-sector union organizers reported that private sector employers sometimes ignored the law and dismissed workers to discourage union activity. Turkish law provides for the right to strike but prohibits strikes by public workers engaged in safeguarding life and property and by workers in the coal mining and petroleum industries, hospitals and funeral industries, urban transportation, energy and sanitation services, national defense, banking, and education. The law explicitly allows the government to deny the right to strike for any situation it determines a threat to national security. Authorities invoked this power in 2015.

Turkey has labor-dispute resolution mechanisms, including the Supreme Arbitration Board, which addresses disputes between employers and employees pursuant to collective bargaining agreements. Labor courts functioned effectively and relatively efficiently. Appeals, however, could often last for years. If a court ruled that an employer had unfairly dismissed a worker and should either reinstate or compensate him or her, the employer generally paid compensation to the employee along with a fine.

Turkey has ratified key International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions protecting workers’ rights, including conventions on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize; Rights to Organize and to Bargain Collectively; Abolition of Forced Labor; Minimum Age; Occupational Health and Safety; Termination of Employment; and Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Implementation of a number of these, including ILO Convention 87 (Convention Concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and Convention 98 (Convention Concerning the Application of the Principles of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively), remained uneven. Implementation of legislation related to workplace health and safety likewise remained uneven. Child labor continued, including in its worst forms and particularly in the seasonal agricultural sector, despite ongoing government efforts to address the issue.

See the Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor for more details on Turkey’s labor sector and the challenges it continues to face.

16. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

There are no restrictions on foreign firms operating in any of Turkey's 20 free zones. The zones are open to a wide range of activities, including manufacturing, storage, packaging, trading, banking, and insurance. Foreign products enter and leave the free zones without payment of customs or duties if products are exported to third country markets. Income generated in the zones is exempt from corporate and individual income taxation and from the value-added tax, but firms are required to make social security contributions for their employees. Additionally, standardization regulations in Turkey do not apply to the activities in the free zones, unless the products are imported into Turkey. Sales to the Turkish domestic market are allowed with goods and revenues transported from the zones into Turkey subject to all relevant import regulations.

Taxpayers who possessed an operating license as of February 6, 2004, do not have to pay income or corporate tax on their earnings in free zones for the duration of their license. Earnings based on the sale of goods manufactured in free zones are exempt from income and corporate tax until the end of the year in which Turkey becomes a member of the European Union. Earnings secured in a free zone under corporate tax immunity and paid as dividends to real person shareholders in Turkey, or to real person or legal-entity shareholders abroad, are subject to 10 percent withholding tax. See the Ministry of Economy’s website:

17. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy


Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data






Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)


$ 719.9 billion


$798.4 billion

Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)




$4.3 billion

BEA data available at

Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)




$1.1 billion

BEA data available at

Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP





) 2014 report based on 2012 data from the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey ($181.2 billion of inbound FDI stock in Turkey/$788.9 billion of 2012 GDP)

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data

From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)

Inward Direct Investment

Outward Direct Investment

Total Inward



Total Outward

































"0" reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets

Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)


Equity Securities

Total Debt Securities

All Countries



All Countries



All Countries



Cayman Islands



United States



Cayman Islands



United States






























United Kingdom






18. Contact for More Information

Ece Deliormanli
Economic Specialist
American Embassy Ankara
110 Atatürk Blvd.
Kavaklıdere, 06100 Ankara - Turkey
Phone: +90 (312) 455-5555