Biggest Foreign Investments in Istanbul The Last Years
Foreign direct investment in Turkey amounted to a whopping $8 billion in 2019. In 2020, this has come down to $4.3 billion, due to several global economic issues. However, the country has consolidated its global position, ranking 33 out of 190 in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. The biggest foreign investors in Turkey are the Netherlands, UK, Qatar and Azerbaijan, investing in sectors of finance, wholesale, chemical industries and IT. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest investments undertaken in the last four years.
The Dutch are the biggest investors in Istanbul, investing hugely in the automobile sector, chemical and petroleum industry. In 2019, it made a $1.2 billion investment, adding to its total share of $26 billion. The Netherlands has invested in ports, real estate, aviation, agriculture and health tourism. In 2020, Ruhsar Pekcan, Minister of Trade in Turkey, said, “We forecast intensive cooperation opportunities between Turkish and Dutch companies in the fields of port construction and management, contracting, maritime, advanced agricultural technologies, organic agricultural products, environment and waste management, chemicals, energy, renewable energy, logistics and health services.” In Istanbul, Netherlands invested $242 million via 14 investors.
Syrian investments in Istanbul amounted to $463 million, mostly in the retail sector. In 2019, 72 companies were established in Istanbul. 51% of Syrian enterprises are manufacturers, specializing mainly in plastics, food processing and food packaging.
Gulf countries like the UAE and Qatar have collectively invested billions in Istanbul in the past years, with their share in the last few years only increasing. In 2017, Saudi investments amounted to $1 billion, UAE at $445 million, and Qatar at $117 million. In 2017, more than 1900 gulf companies were functioning in Turkey, several of these located in Istanbul. These countries also have huge shares in the country’s share market, and amount to more than 750,000 tourists annually, adding substantially to Istanbul’s economy. Besides this, Arab countries own substantial amounts of land in Istanbul, mainly near the Canal Istanbul project.
Italy was the biggest investor in Istanbul in 2020, investing $970 million, after having already invested $94 million in 2019. Tofaş is a joint venture of Italy’s Fiat Chrisler and Koc Holdings. It is now the leading car manufacturer in Istanbul. Manufacturing more than 450 thousand cars annually, and employing more than seven thousand people, it is the seventh-largest industry in Istanbul. Turkey and Italy are inching towards establishing a mutual trade of $30 billion by the next year. Italian confectionery brand Ferrero has also become a major investor, operating several production centers, factories and warehouses. Construction giant Sileni and Tyre company Pirelli are also gaining an increasing economic presence in Istanbul.
In 2019, the USA invested $3.3 billion, investing largely in manufacturing and depository institutions. The USA imported machinery, vehicles, fuels and textiles worth billions. Agricultural imports also amounted greatly. Private investments from the USA in Istanbul have grown substantially over the last few years.
Syria and Netherlands have been the most important investors in Istanbul in the past years, along with important investments through the USA, and Italy, as well as Germany and Iran. The most popular investments were in IT, retail and manufacturing.