Turkey-Italy, two Mediterranean strategic partners

Relations of Turkey and Italy date back to the times of the Ottoman Empire that had close relationships with Italian city-states such as Genoa and Venice. Today, Turkey and Italy are two strategic partners with shared history and values in the Mediterranean region. Italy, which is one of the leading countries supporting Turkey’s EU membership, is one of Turkey’s most important trade partners

Turkey and Italy have always enjoyed solid commercial and political relations, and further developments are likely to take place in every aspect of relations between Turkey and Italy considering the increasing level of trade between countries, considerable growth in tourism, and a significant number of bilateral and multilateral contracts entered by and between countries.

The latest figures of February 2021 published by TUIK demonstrate that Italy remains its position as Turkey’s top-five trade partner, both in imports and exports. The largest volume of imports was made to Germany and it was followed by United Kingdom with 965 Million USD, United States with 917 Million USD and Italy with 833 Million USD. The largest volume of exports, on the other hand, was made to China with 2 billion 241 million USD followed by Russia with 1 billion 706 million USD, Germany with 1 billion 701 million USD and İtaly with 931 million USD.

Moreover, Italian companies have had a strong presence in Turkey with their number exceeding 1.500 as of 2020, and have been successfully contributing to the significant energy and infrastructure projects in Turkey. The total amount of Italian direct investment in Turkey exceeded 4,5 billion Dollars as of 2018, and Turkey had attracted almost $1 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) from Italy in 2020.

Ranking first among Turkey’s textile export markets, Italy is the most important market in Turkey’s textile industry exports. In 2019, 709 million dollars of textile exports were made from Turkey to Italy. With a total of 7.9 billion dollars of textile imports Italy is also the eighth largest importer in the world among the world’s textile importing countries as of the end of 2019. Italy mostly imports from China, Germany and Turkey. Turkey has an important place in Italy’s textile imports with a share of approximately 9%. The product groups that Italy imports the most from our country: other knitted fabrics (6006), cotton yarn (5205), knitted or crocheted fabrics (6004) and cotton woven fabrics (5209).

Italy, which is one of the leading countries supporting Turkey’s EU membership, is one of Turkey’s most important trade partners. Turkey’s proximity to Italy and the fact that it is an important center to enter the markets it neighbors, make Turkey an important investment and trade partner for Italy.

The relations between Italy and Turkey, which are among the most developed economies of the European Union, complement each other. Textile-clothing, leather, machinery manufacturing, food processing and chemistry sectors are extremely open to the cooperation of Italian companies. In addition to these sectors, packaging, mining, furniture, automotive sub-industry, electronics, security systems, jewelry, communication, engineering, logistics, metalworking, shipbuilding, energy, transportation, environmental projects, defense industry, health, financial services and tourism sectors also have potential for cooperation.

Companies registered in Turkey have more than 50 partnerships or affiliates in Italy. Especially in Northern Italy, many businesses belonging to Turkish citizens are operational. However, these enterprises are of a smaller scale compared to the enterprises in other European countries.

Turkey is one of the most favored tourist destinations for Italian citizens. According to Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism – Directorate-General of Investments and Enterprises, around 377.000 tourists from Italy visited Turkey in 2019. Italy is also one of the most popular destinations globally for Turkish citizens, considering 220.000 Turkish tourists visiting Italy in 2019. It is also important to note that the Italian consulate in Istanbul issued the fifth-highest number of Schengen visas of all Italian missions worldwide.