Apparel & Textile Industry


The textile industry in Turkey as we know it today , combining cotton and synthetic yarns, fibres and fabrics, home textiles, ready-wear and apparel is the largest economic sector, employing an estimated 2.5 million people and providing indirect jobs for 6.5 million others. The industry contributes around 10 percent of the GNP.


The clothing industry until recent times was characterized by small, low-capital family-run operations, many of which were simple cut and paste operations with no original designs and products. The country has around 180,000 clothing producers and around 2,000 textile manufacturers, which are large-scale, heavily mechanized operations, employing more than 150 persons each and having more than $15 million in annual sales each.


The industry accounted for 23.45 percent of all Turkish goods sold abroad in 2007, down from about 36.1 percent in 2000. About 60 percent of the nation’s textile and clothing are exported.

Turkey is the world’s sixth biggest ready wear and apparel manufacturer and the European Union’s second largest supplier after China. Its textile industry is the world’s tenth biggest and the European Union’s number one supplier.


Strengths of the Turkish Textile Industry


  • The nation’s strong cotton production -- it is the world's seventh largest producer -- and proximity to European markets are the main strengths of the clothing and textile industries. Delivery times are two to three weeks, compared to two to three months in the Far East.


  • The country is also close to rapidly developing markets as Russia and other former Soviet republics, the Middle East and North Africa.


  • A further advantage for Turkey’s manufacturers is that their production complies with internationally accepted ecological standards. The country’s laws ban the use of carcinogenic azo dyes in clothing and fabric manufacturing, unlike some Far East and Asian manufacturers who still use these materials liberally.


  • Other strong points of the industry are its skilled workforce -- combined with the adaptability and entrepreneurship of the Turkish people, the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure and a liberal foreign exchange regime.


  • Turkey is among the limited number of nations that have integrated and high capacity operations. These countries include Turkey, China, India and Egypt and are set to benefit most from the expanding global exports of textiles and apparel.


  • Modern production equipment (albeit with overcapacity in some sectors).


  • In 2006, 228 out of Turkey’s 1,000 largest manufacturing companies were in the textile, apparel, and leather and carpet business. This is probably the single most important source of sustainable competitive advantage.


Weaknesses of the Turkish Textile Industry


  • The main weakness of the textile and clothing industry has been that it has been losing its cheap labour cost advantage in recent years. The average hourly wage more than doubled between 1980 and 1996. Turkish wages are four or five times more than in China, India, Thailand and Indonesia.


  • The industry also uses more expensive energy and financing than in Europe and the Americas.