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CHEMICAL INDUSTRY IN TURKEY
Chemicals are indispensable to modern life and the development of the chemical industry
has helped to elevate the standard of living, an indicator of the level of industrialization in a
country. Chemical industry products contribute significantly to growth in other industrial
At the beginning of the 20th century there were a few chemical establishments,
manufacturing soap, liquorice extract, valonia extract, etc, within the boundaries of the
Ottoman Empire. From the establishment of the Republic of Turkey up to the 1950s, these
chemical works passed through a process of corporation and production began in some
fields such as explosives, medicine, agricultural chemicals, detergents, printing ink and
textile dyes and involved the final stages only. It was only after the 1950s, especially
during the planned economy period, that the development of the chemical industry in
Turkey accelerated. Between 1960 and 1980 economic policies were based on import
substitution and public sector investments were directed to petrochemicals, fertilizers and
basic organic and inorganic chemicals, the fields which required high investment, with low
profitability whereas private sector and foreign investments were directed to
pharmaceuticals, synthetic yarns, soaps and detergents.
In 1980 Turkey started to follow a new export-oriented economic policy. As a result of
these successful policies, production and exports of the manufacturing sector boomed.
The chemical industry, likewise, benefited from the new economic policy and showed an
impressive increase both in production and exports.
Today, the Turkish chemical industry with its modern technology and diversified products
is the key component of industrial production and integrated into the supply chain of
national industries, especially, textiles and automotive sectors.
Turkey has been manufacturing chemicals for a very long time, being a producer of many
basic and intermediate chemicals and petrochemicals. Turkish chemical production
includes petrochemicals, inorganic and organic chemicals, fertilizers, paints,
pharmaceuticals, soaps and detergents, synthetic fibers, essential oils, cosmetics and
personal care products. The majority of chemicals production is done by the private sector.
In chemical industry, 30% of the production has been directly used by the consumers
whereas 70% of production has been utilized in other sectors as intermediate goods and
raw materials. Turkish chemical industry has been seen as a sector dependent on imports
as regards to raw materials and technology. However, Turkey is among one of the leading
countries in the world that has boron, chrome, soda ash and trona reserves.
The chemical industry, together with the sub-industries such as plastics and rubber,
employs nearly 200.000 people and has about 6,2 thousand companies manufacturing
various chemicals. Very small percentage of the existing companies has more than 150
employees. Most of the companies in the chemical industry, especially private sector
companies, are located in Istanbul, Izmir, Kocaeli, Sakarya, Adana, Gaziantep and Ankara.
Turkish chemical industry has developed significantly in terms of quality, productivity and
protection of the environment, and is in the process of adopting the EU’s Technical Standards.
In addition, the responsible care, the chemical industry’s trademarked noncompulsory
initiative on environmental, health and safety issues has been successfully
implemented since 1992.
Turkish petrochemical industry has shown considerable growth since 1970. As an
upstream producer, TÜPRAŞ (Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation) operates as the
only integrated Refinery in Turkey with its 4 refineries in Izmit, Izmir, Kırıkkale and Batman.
On the other hand, as a downstream producer, the unique company in the Turkish
petrochemical industry is PETKİM Petrokimya Holding A.Ş. which is the only integrated
petrochemical complex in Turkey that operates in Petkim-Aliağa complex in Izmir. In
PETKİM’s Aliağa complex, a wide range of petrochemicals, all common plastics (HDPE,
LDPE, PS, PVC, and PP), aromatics, ethylene glycol, phtallic anhydride, terephthalic acid,
carbon black, synthetic rubber, acrylonitryl and caustic soda are produced. The total
production of these petrochemicals meets about 30% of domestic demand.
Since the textile sector is a well-developed sector in Turkey, polymer production related to
textiles and the production of textile chemicals have also developed simultaneously. Large
plants for the production of polyamide, polyester and acrylic fibers have been built and
production has been directed to both the foreign markets as well as the domestic market.
Almost all synthetic fibers are produced by the private sector and synthetic fiber production
is around 850 000 tons/year.
The fertilizer industry is one of the key industries for Turkey, which has vast agricultural
potential. The first independent fertilizer plant commenced production in 1954 and heavy
fertilizer investments were realized between the years 1960-1970. Today there are seven
major companies producing fertilizers exclusively: Tugsaş, Igsaş, Bagfas, Toros Gübre,
Ege Gübre, Akdeniz Gübre and Gübre Fabrikalari, which are all private enterprises.
Pharmaceuticals, soap and detergents, soda, chromium chemicals, boron chemicals,
paints, sodium sulphate, fatty acids and rose oil are the other main areas of production of
the chemical industry.
The pharmaceuticals industry has become one of the leading sectors of the chemical
industry. Production trends of pharmaceuticals are closely related to domestic demand.
Turkish pharmaceutical companies manufacture a wide range of pharmaceutical products,
mostly generic formulas. The number of pharmaceuticals on the market is over 3000; if
alternative posologies are included the number is over 7000. Domestic industry meets
90% of the pharmaceutical demand but new pharmaceuticals, such as ones for cancer,
vaccines and hormones are imported. The pharmaceuticals industry produces many active
ingredients of pharmaceuticals, primarily antibiotics and analgesics, by using fermentation,
extraction and synthesis methods. The major characteristics of the pharmaceuticals raw
materials industry are that mainly private companies invest in the sector and the existing
production capacity can easily be shifted to various production lines. It is worth mentioning
that the Afyon Alcaloids Factory produces 20% of the morphine consumed by
pharmaceuticals industries all over the world.
The Turkish soap and detergent industry has shown very good performance in terms of
quality, capacity and exports. There are many companies in the soap and detergent
industry, about 15 of them being the major ones; among these there are multinational
groups which have worldwide reputations. Since 1990 domestic and foreign investments in
the Turkish cleaning products industry have increased considerably. Since Turkey has a
large variety of herbs and natural products, natural soap production is also widespread
and done by small size local companies throughout Turkey. World famous “laurel soaps”
are produced in large quantities in Mersin, Antakya and its surrounding regions. Turkey is
also among the top producers of olives, therefore natural olive oil soaps are also
manufactured and exported in large quantities.
The consumption and production of cosmetics and personal care products are growing
rapidly. The number of cosmetics and personal care products is increasing every year.
Hair care has the largest share of the cosmetics and personal care products market in
Turkey. Shampoos represented around 59% of hair care products. Men’s grooming
products, depilatories, bath and shower products especially bar soaps, lip and eye makeup,
personal deodorants and antiperspirants, perfumes, cologne and other toilet waters,
baby care products and dentifrices are the main products. Natural cosmetic production is
on the rise due to growing demand for these products.
Parallel to the developments in Turkey’s construction, automotive and marine industries,
the paints and coatings industry has also developed and has became one of the most
dynamic sectors of the Turkish chemical industry. Today the industry produces about 800
000 tons/year of paints and coatings and is comprised of about 600 manufacturers, more
than 20 of which are large-scale companies. In addition to meeting domestic demand, the
Turkish paint sector has recently tended to export more.
Turkey has the largest soda factory in the Middle East with a total capacity of 750 000
tons/year. In addition to light and dense soda ash, refined sodium bicarbonate and sodium
silicate are produced at the Mersin plant. An extremely rich trona (natural soda ash)
deposit was found near Ankara, at Beypazari, and at present Turkey has substantial
export potential for soda ash. Eti Soda A.Ş. has started operation in 2009 and 1 million
tons/year soda ash will be produced.
Being among the top five countries supplying chrome ore to world markets, Turkey
produces and exports some of the most important chrome chemicals and derivatives such
as sodium bichromate, basic chrome sulfate, chromic acid and chrome oxide.
Turkey also enjoys a comparative advantage in boron chemicals (borax decahydrate,
borax pentahydrate, boric acid and sodium perborate) due to the size of her reserves, the
quality of minerals and proximity to consumer markets. Eti Maden İşletmeleri Genel
Müdürlüğü is the dominant producer of boron minerals and boron chemicals and the soleexclusive
exporter of boron chemicals.
Turkey has developed a substantial capacity and production of sodium sulphate. In sodium
sulphate production, Turkey ranks among the top producers in the world. Owing to
Turkey’s climatic and ecological conditions, many medicinal and aromatic plants are
cultivated or gathered from nature. Turkey is one of the most important rose oil exporters
in the world market. The majority of these exports originate from the Isparta region. Laurel
oil, thymus oil, lavander oil and origanium oil are also produced in Turkey.
In conjunction with recent industrial growth in Turkey, the consumption and production of
many other chemicals are growing rapidly and the number of chemicals produced is
increasing every year. The recent developments in textile and leather chemicals are also
worth mentioning and many small and medium size companies have recently started to
operate in these two sectors. In the Turkish chemical industry, there are more than 300
companies with foreign investment. The Turkish chemical industry has a share of nearly
15% of total foreign capital in Turkey.
Turkey's chemical industry exports are increasing steadily. In 2011 the chemical industry
was one of the important exporting sectors among total industrial exports. The value of
chemical exports was about US$ 17,1 billion in 2011, or about 12,71% of the total exports
(134,9 billion dollars) in Turkey.
Major fairs in the Turkish chemical industry in 2012 are as follows:
AYSAF 8. International Footwear Industry Suppliers Fair in Istanbul, 29 Feb-3 March 2012.
Chemistry, Chemical Industry, Chemical Products - Heating, Cooling, Ventilation,
Natural Gas And Systems, Building and Building Materials, Bathroom, Kitchen,
Ceramics, Ironmongery, Hardware, Installation, in Istanbul 13-15 September 2012.
Chemistry, Chemical Industry, Chemical Products - Leather Technologies, Leather Products, Leather
Garments, Footwear, in Istanbul, 3-6 October 2012.
TURKCHEM’12 (Chemicals, Laboratory and Technology) in Istanbul on 11-14 October 2012.
Turkish Chemical Society
Turkish Chemical Manufacturers Association
Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters’ Association
Akdeniz Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters’ Association
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