Turkish Economy Extended workbench for the manufacture of non-complex tools

Author / Editor: Dr. Wolfgang Boos, Michael Salmen M.Sc., Thomas Kuhlmann M.Sc., M.Sc., Dipl.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt.Ing. Max Schippers, Dipl.-Wirt.-Ing. Maximilian Stark / Briggette Jaya

The geographical position of the Turkish tool and die industry, a good infrastructure and relative simple customs regulations to the EU allow for rapid transport and makes Turkey an interesting alternative to Asia for German and other Western European companies.

A fifth of all Turks live in Istanbul – the city combines many of Turkey’s characteristics: growth and contradictions, Europe and Asia, modernity and antiquity.
A fifth of all Turks live in Istanbul – the city combines many of Turkey’s characteristics: growth and contradictions, Europe and Asia, modernity and antiquity.
(Source: seqoya - Fotolia)

Turkey, located on the border between Asia and Europe, has about 82 million citizens and evaluations of the EU assume that the population will sharply increase up to 92 million citizens by 2050. In the last twenty years Turkey made strong progress in the improvement of living conditions of its inhabitants. Nevertheless, Turkey’s performance in many indicators regarding the standard of living is below average and often lags behind when compared to other developed countries. Especially the healthcare and educational system, the labor market and the personal income as well as the political and social security have a lower standard than other developed countries. Only 34% of all adults have a higher educational degree and in the PISA Study, an indicator for the quality of the school system, Turkey is frequently one of the worst rated countries. Since 2005, Turkey and the European Union are in a dialogue concerning their admission into the EU, but no progress has been made in the past few years.

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The Turkish economy

In terms of gross domestic product (GDP), Turkey is one of the larger economies worldwide on rank 17. With regard to the GDP per capita, Turkey is with €9,342 in the lower third of the countries in this study. In the last four years the economy grew steadily by 4.5% per year. The outlook for 2015 and 2016 is positive, but at the same time Turkey has one of the highest trade deficits based on the GDP. The Turkish economy is increasingly driven by the industrial and service sectors; however, agriculture still builds up 25% of the economic performance. An aggressive privatization of the banking sector as well as the industrial, transport and communication sectors has strengthened the free market economy and led to new small and medium-sized companies apart from the traditional textile and clothing industry. Turkey is now the 32nd largest export nation and the 22nd largest import nation. The country exported products and goods worth €157.75bn in 2014. The three most important export goods were textiles, machines and automotive parts. Furthermore, Turkey has vast natural resources such as chrome, copper, iron ore, oil and borax. The level of wages is at an average of €14,099 and thereby below the average of all industrial nations. An average employee works for 1,857 hours per year, which is 6% more than the average of all other industrial nations. The rate of unemployment is currently about 11.3%, with youth unemployment even higher at 18%. The labour market has not been able to recover from the crisis in 2008 and 2009 and shows structural deficits. The income differences in Turkey are very high despite minimum wages. The unemployment benefit is ineffective and provides only a low amount of social protection. The legal minimum wage is one of the highest of all industrial nations, as measured by particular average wages. Nevertheless, studies show that more than 50% of all Turkish employees earn less than this minimum wage.

Turkish tool manufacturing

In 2013 Turkey exported 1,547 tons of tools and dies worth €108.93m, comprising of €64.91m for injection moulds, €34.81m for solid and sheetmetal forming tools, and €9.22m for die casting moulds. At the same time Turkey imported tools and dies worth €281.71m. This included €219.60m of injection moulds, €41.83m of solid and sheetmetal forming tools and €20.27m of die casting moulds. The Turkish trade of tools with foreign markets for 2014 is illustrated in Fig.3. The largest trade partners for importing injection moulds are China, South Korea and Italy. Turkey imports twice as much from China than from South Korea. Injection moulds are mostly exported to Russia, Germany and USA. The largest trade partners for importing sheetmetal and massive forming tools are Germany, Italy and Japan while they are exported mainly to Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom. In the past years Turkey could establish itself as a reliable sourcing alternative for several German companies.

Simple customs regulations

The majority of the Turkish tool and die industry is situated in the Marmara region, located near Istanbul, Bursa and Izmir. The geographical position, a good infrastructure and relative simple customs regulations to the EU allow for rapid transport and makes the country an interesting alternative to Asia. The trade with foreign partners is illustrated in Fig. 4. Furthermore, many Turkish employees speak German, a fact which simplifies communication. The tool and die industry in Turkey is focused on both injection moulds and sheetmetal forming tools for the automotive, appliance and packaging industry. A majority of the produced tools and dies is determined for local series producers.

As an exporter to Germany, Turkish tool and die manufacturers have established themselves as an extended workbench for the manufacture of simple tools. The price advantage compared to Germany ranges between 10% to 50% and is quality dependent. The development potential for the future is rated as average, due to the absence of expected development in the past years.


  • Istma International Special Tooling and Machining Association, 2014
  • Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD, 2012-2014
  • United Nations Comtrade Database, 2010-2014