Free Trade Zones: There are 20 Free Trade Zones in Turkey, displaying activity within the framework of Free Trade Zones Law numbered 3218, and their objective is to increase investments and export-oriented production, to speed up the inflow of foreign capital and technology, to provide a steady and cheaper flow of input materials, and to obtain a better use of foreign financing and trade opportunities. Currently operational free trade zones enjoying developed infrastructure and offering high-quality services are:
Mersin, Antalya and Adana-Yumurtalık free zones in the Mediterranean Region;
Aegean, İzmir-Menemen Leather and Denizli free zones in the Aegean Region;
İstanbul Atatürk Airport, İstanbul Leather and Industry, İstanbul Thrace, Europe, Bursa, Kocaeli and the TÜBİTAK Marmara Technology Research Center (on R&D and high technology production) free zones in the Marmara Region;
Eastern Anatolia Free Zone in Erzurum, Eastern Anatolia Region;
Trabzon, Rize and Samsun free zones in the Black Sea Region;
Kayseri Free Zone in the Central Anatolia Region;
Mardin and Gaziantep free zones in the Southeast Anatolia Region.
The total volume of trade in all free trade zones reached 24.5 billion USD in 2007, increasing by 3.1%. The İstanbul Leather and Industry, Aegean and İstanbul Atatürk Airport free zones took the first three places in trade volume. Sectoral examination of the total trade volume in free trade zones reveals that trade of industrial products amounted to 96.3% of the total commercial activity, where machinery industry products took the first place by 25%, followed by textile and ready to wear industry products (16.4%) and electrical industry products (10.77%). The free zones continued operating in line with their purpose of establishing and continuing to provide new employment for their regions, and hence the number of people working in these zones in 2007 totaled 50,667. The number of companies operating in free trade zones, on the other hand, totaled 3,754. The same year, the number
of producers increased to 810 and foreign capital companies increased to 642. Distribution of the total volume of trade per country was: Turkey 44.6%, EU countries 30.4% and other OECD countries 6.8%.
The free zones are receiving a huge interest from national companies and from neigbouring countries. In this sense, the location and boundaries of the Sakarya-Silk Road Free Zone were determined by the Ministerial Board decision No. 2007/12340, taken on March 12th, 2007. The free zones in Turkey that give technical support to other countries, especially to Tachickhistan and Macedonia, play an active role on the international scale. Within this frame, the 24th International Conference of the World Economic Processing Zone Association (WEPZA), “the Opportunities and Risks for the Free Zones in the Globalization of the Economies” was held in Antalya between 18th and 21st April, 2007.