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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 sectors.
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. After the establishment of the Republic of Turkey till 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 the industry and integrated into supply chain of national industries, especially, textiles and automotive sectors.
Turkey has been manufacturing chemicals for 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 benefited 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 6 200 companies manufacturing various chemicals. Very small percentages of the existing companies have more than 150 employees.
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.
Pharmaceuticals, plastics, 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.
Turkey has the largest soda factory in the Middle East with a total capacity of 750 000 tons/year.
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.
Turkey has developed a substantial capacity and production of sodium sulphate. In sodium sulphate production, Turkey comes in top ranks 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. Laurel oil, thymus oil, lavender 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 2017 the chemical industry was one of the most
important sectors among total industrial exports. The value of chemical
exports was about US $ 16.8 billion in 2017, or about 10.7 % of total
Turkish exports .
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