As Turkey's automotive industry continues to lead national exports, the number of countries where it sends products worth $1 billion or more went up to nine last year.
It crossed the $1-billion threshold for nine different countries in 2018, compared to seven in 2017. According to the Uludağ Automotive Industry Exporters' Association (OİB), the automotive sector exported to a total of 207 different countries, free zones and autonomous regions last year.
The sector hit an all-time high in 2018, raising its exports by 11 percent to $31.6 billion. It took the lead for the 13th time in a row in annual exports.
The EU countries were the largest export destinations for the Turkish automobile industry, reaching $24.6 billion with an increase of 78 percent.
Last year, the growth in the EU market, albeit at low rates, reflected positively on automotive exports and saw an increase of 12 percent.
In 2017, the Turkish automotive industry exported $1 billion or more worth of goods to seven countries - Germany, France, Italy, the U.K., Spain, the U.S. and Belgium.
In 2018, however, eight EU members and the U.S. came to the fore as export markets that exceeded $1 billion.
Exports to Germany reached $4.8 billion last year, with an increase of 8.8 percent compared to 2017. Its share in the Turkish automotive exports stood at 15 percent.
Germany was followed by Italy, with an increase of 3.8 percent, reaching $3.3 billion. It was followed by France with an increase of 10.9 percent, hitting $3.2 billion. Exports to the U.K. increased by 6.8 percent to hit $2.9 billion, followed by Spain with an increase of 9.6 percent, reaching $1.8 billion, and Belgium with an 18 percent increase to hit $1.4 billion.
Sales to Slovenia and Poland, on the other hand, exceeded the $1-billion threshold for the first time this year, reaching $1.2 billion with an increase of 28 percent, and $1.1 billion with an increase of 21 percent, respectively.
Apart from the EU countries, only the U.S. market saw an increase in Turkish automotive exports. Exports to the U.S. stood at $1.1 billion, despite a decline from the previous year.
Among the countries with the highest exports, the Netherlands ranked 10th. Exports to this country surged by 19 percent to $905 million.
OİB Chairman Baran Çelik said 2018 was a good year for the automotive industry, which stands out as the leader in Turkish exports.
Çelik added that they achieved an average of $2.63 billion in exports on a monthly basis last year - a first in the industry's history.
It exceeded $3 billion in exports in March, $2.9 billion in April and October and $2.8 billion in February, May, July and November.
The industry ended 2018 with a total of $31.6 billion in exports, with an increase of 11 percent, Çelik said.
He added that it hit around $29.1 billion in exports in the first 11 months of 2018. In doing so, it surpassed the export record of $28.5 billion reached in 2017, one month before year-end.
"Thus, the automotive industry renewed the export record in the Turkish Republic's history by completing its 13th consecutive year as the export leader," he said.
Earlier last week, Çelik said that their export target for 2019 was set at $32 billion.