Turkey's natural stone exports in 2017 increased by almost 13 percent as it reached $2 billion from $1.8 billion in 2016, according to the Aegean Exporters' Association.
The increase was mainly attributed to China lifting tax and quota restrictions on natural stone imports in the last quarter of 2016, after almost three years.
In 2016, natural stone worth $729 million was exported to China, making up almost half of Turkey's natural stone sales. That figure soared by almost 30 percent to nearly $945 million in 2017. China was followed by India with $295 million and Saudi Arabia with $105 million.
Mevlüt Kaya, chairman of the Aegean Mineral Exporters' Association, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the export of natural stones has been around the $2-billion threshold since 2014.
He said that this limit was surpassed in 2017 as a result of the developments in the Chinese market.
"Because of the earlier restriction in the Chinese market, we could not cross the $2 billion limit for three years prior to 2017. The Chinese government lifting the restrictions on natural stone imports in the last quarter of 2016 was a great relief for the sector. The country has since resumed large imports," Kaya said.
He added that natural stone exports to India skyrocketed by 54 percent last year, after the Indian government, like China, also removed taxes and quota on natural stone imports.
"Exports to the Indian market grew substantially in the past six months. We expect them to double in 2018," Kaya noted.
He stressed that they were looking to exceed the $1 billion limit in the Chinese market and help the Ministry of Economy's pledge to break the export records this year.
"We are doing our best in our sector. 2018 will be a year of records in natural stone and other mining businesses. We believe that we can easily surpass $2.5 billion in natural stone exports, a record in the sector," he said.
Kaya added that all the representatives in the sector have pledged to achieve the export target for 2018 under the leadership of Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak.
He said that they were constantly looking to explore new markets and were giving priority to products with high-added value.