The Free Zones of  Our Country

With the entry into force of the Free Trade Zones Act number 3218 in 1985, 19 free zones entered into service in different dates : The Mersin and Antalya Free Zones (1987), the Aegean Free Zone (1990), the Istanbul Atatürk Airport Free Zone (1990), the Trabzon and Adana (Yumurtalık) Free Zones (1992), the İstanbul-Tuzla Leather Free Zone (1995), the East Anatolian Free Zone (Erzurum-1995), the Mardin Free Zone (1995), the European Free Zone (Çorlu-1996), the Istanbul Stock Exchange Free Zone (1997), the İzmir Free Zone (Menemen-1998), the Rize Free Zone (1998), the Samsun Free Zone (1998), the İstanbul Thrace Free Zone (1998), the Kayseri and Gaziantep Free Zones (1998, the Bursa and Denizli Free Zones (2000), Kocaeli ve TUBİTAK-MAM Free Zones (2001).

In Turkey, we do not pretend that free zones have a magical effect in solving the economical problems; but they are crucial for using the existing industrial and commercial potential, increasing their effectiveness and thus having a more active and important place in a globalizing world.

When we take a look at the short history of our free zones, we may observe that there have been some deviations from what has been planned, but the main goals have been reached in general. Turkish free zones have been established for serving the “regional development” , thus the development of the country as a whole. The free zones are operating appropriately to the export oriented development policies. As we mentioned above, the present objective is reaching the full capacity in the existing free zones, rather than establishing new ones.

By the end of the Feburary 2007, 3,076 Turkish and 640 foreign firms are operating in the 20 Turkish free zones, a total of 3,716 firms. Their total employment has reached about 44,300 persons. By the end of the 2007, the total trade volume of these free zones has reached a level of 24.5 billion USD. On the other hand, the cumulative trade volume realized via free zones in Turkey since their establishment in 1988 until the  2007 has reached 173.5 billion US Dollars.

In order to attract foreign capital under the competitive conditions of the present world economic conditions, countries bring encouraging measures. But these special arrangements are not the only and most important factor taken into consideration by the foreign capital owners. The foreign capital considers and evaluates many different criteria together and tries to look from a long term perspective. Hence, starting from the political and economic stability of the country, they look for more advantageous environments.