GDP: $468 billion/$7,000 per capita (2002).

GDP Change: +4.2 percent.

Population: 67.3 million.

Unemployment: 10.8 percent.

Textile & Apparel Exports to U.S.: $1.75 billion, up 21.7 percent*.

Key Products: Women’s cotton apparel: blouses, pants, dressing gowns, sleepwear.

Major Companies: Haci Omer Sabanci Holding, Sonmez Tekstil, Ugurteks Tekstil, Guney Polgat.

Currency: 1.44 million Turkish lira = $1 U.S.

Textiles and apparel were the largest piece of Turkey’s $32 billion in exports last year. The country for years served as a nearby, low-cost source of fabrics and garments for European firms, playing a similar role to what Mexico and the Caribbean nations have to the U.S. apparel industry. The nation is also a significant grower of cotton, which gives it a highly vertical industry that allows great creation of value along the supply chain and has encouraged strong economic development. As Turkey’s industry has developed, its costs have risen accordingly and today Turkish manufacturers try to walk a fine line, balancing themselves in a niche that’s not as expensive as European production, but that they claim offers higher quality than can be found in Far Eastern nations like China and Vietnam. Turkey has also sought to boost the profile of its designers, offering buyers more full-package services and holding fashion events in Istanbul intended to attract the notice of the world’s fashion community. Turkish lobbyists ruffled some feathers in the Washington trade community this spring, after they pushed aggressively for trade breaks from the U.S. in exchange for allowing the U.S. to use Turkish bases as a launch point for ground troops prior to the Iraqi invasion. After negotiators agreed to the deal, the Turkish parliament failed to approve the proposal, squashing the deal and causing the administration to restrategize its war plans and invade from the south.

* FOR THE 12 MONTHS ENDED APRIL 2003, COMPARED WITH THE CORRESPONDING YEAR-AGO PERIOD. SOURCES: THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK, U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, OANDA.COM

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