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Turkey: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Turkey

As Turkey's capital, Ankara is an administrative hub where formal conventions prevail. For business meetings, a dark suit (with tie) is the norm for men. Women are advised to wear business suits with trousers or skirts below the knee. Visiting businesswomen will usually be treated with the same respect as male colleagues. However, women should be aware that after-dinner invitations to accompany the men to a revue bar or belly-dancing club might imply going to an upmarket brothel, and a woman's company will be resented. Women are advised to clarify the nature of the establishment before going.

English is widely spoken in business circles though to have even the most basic knowledge of Turkish wins considerable respect. Punctuality is expected, with lunch meetings commonplace. Business cards and formal greetings are widely used.

Most Turks prefer to do business with someone they know, trust and respect so establishing a personal relationship is an important part of deal-making. Once a relationship has been established, communication is direct. It is customary for business visitors to address new acquaintances by their first names followed using 'Bey' (sir) or 'Hanim' (lady).

Secretaries are rarely empowered to take important messages or even know the boss's schedule, so when phoning, it is usual for callers to be told to ring back 'one hour later' or fax your queries. Once the appropriate contacts have been made, however, business visitors are usually treated with personal warmth and courtesy.

As a Muslim nation, Turkey observes the festivals of the Islamic calendar so avoid scheduling meetings during Ramadan. Alcohol consumption is socially acceptable across most of Turkey, however many choose abstinence so it is important to check to be sure.
 

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1200 and 1330-1730.

Economy

The agricultural sector, previously of great economic importance, now accounts for only 9.1% of the GDP, although it a quarter of the labour force are still . It remains a major employer however, and Turkey is self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs like maize, sugar, wheat and barley.

Manufacturing and services are the most important and fastest growing sectors, with banking and the construction industry enjoying major growth in recent years. The services sector makes the greatest overall contribution to the country's economy, accounting for around 60% of Turkey's GDP. The country's tourist industry is also of primary importance, with the number of tourists increasing year on year, going from around 27 million tourists in 2007 to over 31 million in 2012. The tourism industry brought in over US$$20 billion in revenue in 2012.

Underlying structural problems coupled with years of mismanagement and world events brought the Turkish economy to its knees in 2001. In the face of this crisis, the government introduced an International Monetary Fund-backed austerity program that succeeded in cutting inflation from 70% to 6%. Unemployment in 2012 stood at 9.2%. Up until the financial crisis in 2008, Turkey’s GDP experienced strong growth and although impacted by the subsequent instability of Europe’s financial market, this has now stabilised at around 2-3%.

Istanbul and Antalya are the most popular venues, followed by Ankara, Marmaris and Bodrum. There are many 4- and 5-star hotels, which provide facilities and can host conferences and meetings to international standards.

GDP

US$794.5 billion (2012).

Main exports

Clothing and textiles, food, manufactured goods, transport equipment.

Main imports

Machinery, chemicals, appliances and parts, mineral fuels and oil, road vehicles.

Main trading partners

Germany, Iraq, Iran, Russia and China.

Keeping in Touch in Turkey

Telephone

The cheapest way to make calls is from PTT telephone booths, which are found in all areas. These operate using phone cards, which can be bought from kiosks, or by using major credit cards.

Mobile Phone

Mobile phone coverage is generally good, but can be patchy in some rural areas in eastern Turkey. As Turkey is outside the EU, roaming charges are very much more expensive than for mobile phone use in the UK and the rest of the EU.

Internet

There are internet cafés throughout Turkey, even in small towns and rural villages. Almost all hotels (including even small guesthouses and budget hostels) offer free Wi-Fi internet access, as do many restaurants, bars and cafés.

Media

The Turkish media tends to be self-censoring on controversial religious, cultural and political issues. Journalists, novelists, film-makers and broadcasters have been prosecuted under laws against ‘insulting' the country, the armed forces, and ‘Turkishness'.

English-language newspapers include The Turkish Daily News, whilst the main Turkish-language papers are Hürriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Zamam Cumhuriyet and Yeni Asir. An edition of the British Sunday Times is printed in Istanbul. The state broadcaster TRT operates several TV and radio channels. Private channels include ATV, Kanal D, Show TV and Star TV. CNN Türk is the Turkish channel of news network CNN. TRT radio stations include TRT 1 (cultural and educational), TRT 3 (classical, jazz and popular music) and TRT 4 (Turkish folk and classical music). Best FM, Show Radyo and Capital Radio are commercial stations whilst Radyo Foreks broadcasts news.

Post

Turkish post offices are recognisable by their yellow PTT signs. It takes around 4-5 working days for mail from Turkey to reach Europe.

Post Office hours

Major post offices are open Mon-Sat 0800-2400, Sun 0900-1900; smaller post offices have the same opening hours as government offices.

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