Free Zones Become High-Value Export Hubs

In 2023, the export value from Türkiye’s free zones reached $12.7 billion, with 52.4% of these exports consisting of mid-high and high technology products.

Highlighting that free zones have become hubs for production, employment, and high-value exports, SEBKİDER President Yusuf Kılınç invited companies seeking to grow in global markets to take advantage of the opportunities offered by these zones.

Analyzing the 2023 data released by the Ministry of Trade, Kılınç noted that exports from free zones increased by 10.7% to $12.7 billion. Exports to the EU rose by 11% to $6 billion, and exports to North America increased by 27% to $1.7 billion. Kılınç shared, “With the recently operational West Anatolia Free Zone in Bergama, the total number of free zones has reached 19, hosting 2,108 companies, including 545 foreign firms, as of December 2023. Employment in these zones increased by 6.9% last year, reaching 97,588 individuals.”

5 Free Zones Surpassed $1 Billion in Exports

Kılınç emphasized the rapid transformation of free zones into high-value production, employment, and export bases, stating that in 2023, five free zones exceeded $1 billion in exports. He pointed out that more than half of the approximately $13 billion exports from free zones last year were from mid, advanced, and high-tech products. “The Aegean Free Zone, with its $2.8 billion exports, was the top exporting free zone, while the Istanbul Industrial and Trade Free Zone increased its exports by $388.9 million to $1.3 billion, becoming the free zone with the highest increase in exports. Mersin, Bursa, and European free zones also achieved exports exceeding $1 billion,” he said.

Free Zones Ranked Fifth After İzmir in Export Value

Kılınç mentioned that in 2023, Istanbul, Kocaeli, Bursa, and İzmir were the top four exporting provinces, with exports of $95.8 billion, $18.7 billion, $16.2 billion, and $13.9 billion, respectively. “If included in a provincial ranking, free zones, with their $12.7 billion exports, would have ranked fifth, moving up one place from sixth in 2022. While only 24 provinces in Türkiye managed to export more than $1 billion annually, this year, five of our free zones exceeded $1 billion in exports,” he stated.

Export-Focused Companies Grow Rapidly in Free Zones

Kılınç highlighted that free zones offer significant opportunities to export-oriented manufacturing companies in international markets, saying, “Our zones aim to increase investment, production, and exports, offering investors tax exemptions and reductions, the ability to make medium and long-term plans, easy access to domestic and international markets, ready infrastructure, and high service quality standards from zone developers and operators. In today’s challenging financial conditions, investors can flexibly expand or downsize by leasing ready-to-use buildings without allocating capital to land and building purchases. This flexibility is a decisive factor for both domestic and foreign investors. The ability to start production within a month of obtaining an operating license increases the attractiveness of investing in our zones. We invite investors looking to grow in global markets to take advantage of the competitive benefits of our free zones.”

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