Turkey saw record-high exports in both June and the first half of the year, the nation's trade minister announced Friday.
Exports climbed 47% year-on-year to $19.8 billion (TL 171.93 billion) last month, Mehmet Muş told a meeting held to announce preliminary foreign trade figures in the capital Ankara.
The foreign trade deficit was up 1% to $2.9 billion in the month as imports surged 39% year-on-year to $22.7 billion, the minister said.
Exports in June follow the second-best May ever, which came after sales posted all-time monthly highs for five consecutive months and reached as high as $19 billion in March and $18.8 billion in April.
Sales from January through June jumped 40% to hit $105 billion, Muş said.
Imports in the said period posted an annual rise of 27.5% to $126.1 billion.
The minister noted that the strong performance exporters had achieved in the first five months continued into June.
The 12-month rolling exports reached nearly $199.57 billion in June, the highest ever annualized figure, Muş said.
Also addressing the meeting, Turkey Exporters Assembly (TIM) head Ismail Gülle expressed hope the nation would finally exceed the $200 billion threshold in July.
“$200 billion has been the figure we have been dreaming about for a long time,” Gülle said.
With the normalization steps, Muş suggested the country would even exceed the target of $198 billion set for 2022 within the medium-term program and “go far beyond $200 billion.”
Turkey had lifted virtually all social coronavirus restrictions in March but backtracked in April when daily COVID-19 cases soared above 60,000. It prompted the government to impose the strictest lockdown yet from the end of April to May 17, when it started to gradually ease the measures again.
The final stage in the nation’s gradual normalization process began this week, with curfews and lockdowns lifted, as well as all venues and businesses opening without restrictions.
The pandemic led to a 6.26% drop in 2020 exports as Turkey closed the year with $169.5 billion in foreign sales, exceeding the target of $165.9 billion in the medium-term program.
Imports were up 4.3% to reach $219.4 billion. The foreign trade gap widened by 69.12% to $49.9 billion.
Muş said the January-June foreign trade volume of $231.1 billion as well marked the highest six-month figure ever.
“Another important indicator, the exports-to-imports coverage ratio rose to 87.3% in June, an increase of 4.8 percentage points compared to last year. In January-June, the ratio rose to 83.2%, an increase of 7.3 percentage points from a year ago,” the minister said.
“Similarly, our foreign trade deficit decreased by 11.4% in the first half of 2021 compared to last year and fell to $21.2 billion.”
The number of firms making exports saw a 12% increase from January through June to 76,189, the minister noted.
Exports to Europe, the country’s top market, maintained an upward trend as sales surged 42% year-on-year in the first half to $44 billion.
Sales to European markets, where almost half of the country’s exports go, accounted for 42% of the country’s overall exports in the said period.
Exports to the EU in June alone surged nearly 50% to $8.2 billion. The bloc again accounted for nearly 42% of the nation’s total sales in the month.
Combined with non-EU countries, the continent accounted for 56.3% of overall Turkish exports.
Sales to countries in the Middle East rose 19.5% last month to $3.1 billion, while exports to the African continent surged 59.3% to $1.8 billion, the data showed.
Gülle said sales increased to 175 countries last month, while all-time monthly highs were seen in exports to 19 nations, including the U.S., Italy, Mexico, Canada, Germany and Kyrgyzstan.
Germany was the top market in the month as it received $1.7 billion worth of Turkish goods, followed by the U.S. with $1.35 billion and the U.K. with $1.27 billion, the data showed.
“The countries where we increased our exports the most by amount were the U.S. with an increase of $556 million, Italy with an increase of $453 million and Germany with an increase of $417 million,” Gülle noted.
All the industries managed to increase their sales in June, compared to a year ago, he said.
The chemicals industry led the way among sectors in the month with $2.13 billion, an increase of 66.6%, followed by automotive with $2.35 billion and the steel industry with $2.26 billion.
The latter two industries lifted their sales by 16.8% and 81%, respectively, the data showed.
Automotive topped the list in the January-June period, boosting its sales by 38.9% to $14.4 billion.
It was followed by chemicals with $12 billion, a 40.1% year-on-year increase, and ready-to-wear with $9.4 billion, a surge of 35.4% from a year ago.
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