The Door to Europe for Turkish Investors: North Rhine Westphalia

Prof. Faruk Sen
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It’s important to inform Turkish businessmen who plan to open businesses in the US market about the business possibilities in a nearer geographic area, to add an alternative perspective.
With its geographic and human resources, Germany’s most populated state, North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), where Turkey Research Center (TRC) is headquartered as well, offers important opportunities to Turkish investors who would like to open businesses in Europe. The state has a population of 18 million and it includes the major cities of Köln, Essen, Dortmund, and Düsseldorf. The state also constitutes one of the legs of the Belgium-Holland-Ruhr triangle, which is the most densely populated region of Europe.  

The state, which had been the heart of German heavy industry for many years with its rich natural resources, rapidly changed its appearance after the mines were closed. The region has been revitalized with big cultural centers that rose from the ashes of heavy industry and has become a center where the heart of commerce has started to beat. One other factor that renders the state especially interesting for Turkish investors is that one-third of the 2.7 million Turkish immigrants that live in Germany are settled within the borders of the state. This potential is also the major reason that more than one-third of the enterprises established by Turkish immigrants in Germany are concentrated in this region and most of the large-scale businesses are centered in the State.

North Rhine Westphalia is a door that opens to the Western European market, which has 150 million consumers; 39 of the top 100 companies with the highest revenue are located in this region. The list, which includes world class major companies such as E-on, RWE, Bayer, Krupp-Thyssen, Ford, Henkel, can be extended to other big names like Metro, Lidl, Rewe, Aldi, and Karstadt. With the fourth biggest stock-exchange of Europe, in Düsseldorf, and more than 50 international fairs organized regularly in centers like Köln, Essen, Düsseldorf, and Dortmund, the state is the symbol of the commercial vitality in the region.


Turkish investors contribute on a large scale to the trade in North Rhine Westphalia. According to a recent study by TRC, Turkish operations have grown not only in number but also in business capacity. Small snack shops turn into big restaurants, travel agencies become tourism companiesm and small truck businesses become big transportation companies.

By the year 2006, investment by Turkish entrepreneurs in NRW reached 2.8 billion Euro and the total value of the goods and services put into the market is more than 11.2 billion Euro.

The increase in the number of Turkish investors in North Rhine Westphalia in the last 15 years shows no parallelism with the increase in the Turkish population in the state. The faster increase in the number of investors than the increase in population undoubtedly is an example of unprecedented success. More than half of the 24,000 Turkish investors in the state (13,000) conduct business in the Ruhr region. The Ruhr region constitutes a focal point for Turkish investors as it has 320,000 of the total 920,000 Turkish immigrants in the state of NRW.

According to studies conducted by TRC, the boom in Turkish investment in NRW took place after the investors started to tend to sectoral divisions and leave the ethnic niches to become market businesses with products and services addressing the German consumers. Approximately 78% of the Turkish businesses provide their products mostly from German suppliers as well as from Turkish companies. For 82% of these Turkish enterprises, the German consumers have become essential, and today they have carried their businesses to the regional and national markets.  

North Rhine Westphalia offers important opportunities to investors from Turkey. In recent years, the market has attracted many big Turkish companies to establish their European headquarters in the region. A long list of Turkish enterprises, from Eczacıbaşı Holding to IDAS and Abbate, are opening up in the Western Europe market from North Rhine Westphalia. The advantages of the market are not limited to geographical and human resources.

The state government, the incentives and low interest loans provided by the European Union, and the consulting services from various organizations provide assistance in establishing an infrastructure conducive to having a steady place in the market. There are a few points that the investors should be careful about to benefit from these incentives. First of all, the entrepreneurs should draw up their costing and work plans before they attempt an investment and contact the related organizations.

This necessary condition to benefit from the available incentives should be given primary attention. Undoubtedly a good work plan is a factor that would increase the chance to benefit from incentives and loans. It is possible to find many public and private, fee-based or free-of-charge consulting organizations to prepare a good work plan. ReTra, a subdivision of TRC, which has been offering consulting services to Turkish investors in NRW for 10 years and has conducted a great deal of research in this field, provides consultancy services to Turkish entrepreneurs who want to invest in the region.   
Among the major organizations that assist foreign investors are the economical incentive organization of the state (GfW), the chambers of commerce, and banks. Investors from Turkey should first open these doors. However, before attempting any investment, doing market research and creating a clear concept for the business to be undertaken would increase the chance of success.

Ministry of Economy North Rhein Westfalia
Haroldstrasse 4
40213 Düsseldorf

North Rhein Westfalia Economy Stimulation Institute (GfW)
Kavallierstrasse 8-10
40213 Düsseldorf

The Center for Studies on Turkey
Altendorferstr. 3
45127 Essen

Altendorferstr. 3
45127 Essen

(January 2007, 23rd Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07