Turkey’s exports dropped by 5.7% year-on-year in August amid shrinking demand from the country’s key European Union market and temporary halts to automotive production, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said Wednesday.
Exports totaled $12.5 billion (TL 92 billion) across the month, while imports grew 20.6% to $18.8 billion in the same period, the Trade Ministry's preliminary data showed.
The coronavirus has hit trade with Turkey's main partners in Europe and the Middle East in recent months.
Exports dropped significantly in March when the pandemic struck but had been recovering.
The decrease in exports stemmed from weak demand in the EU and disruption in the automotive sector last month, Pekcan wrote on Twitter.
“We believe our foreign trade will gain strong momentum in the period ahead, thanks to both national policies and to the normalization of our main export markets, notably the EU,” she said.
She noted that Turkey would continue efforts for product and market diversification and enhance the competitiveness of its exporters.
In August, the export-import coverage ratio was 66.4%, compared to 85% in August 2019. The foreign trade deficit jumped 169.7% year-on-year, hitting $6.3 billion.
Imports of gold – which also logged record highs this summer – leaped 394% last month in Turkey to its highest since 1989 at $4.08 billion, the ministry said.
In the first nine months of this year, Turkish exports slipped 12.8% year-on-year to $102.5 billion, according to the preliminary data.
Imports were also down 1.14% to $135.4 billion during the same period, bringing the foreign trade gap to $32.9 billion, which saw a yearly rise of 69%.
Elaborating on the data, Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) chairperson Ismail Gülle said eight industries had posted their highest exports ever in August, while 17 out of 27 sectors have seen a rise in their foreign sales.
Gülle also noted that they have observed a gradual recovery in the export figures to some European countries.
He said exports to the U.S. had increased by $64.2 million compared to August 2019, while sales to Belgium and Israel were up $59.3 million and $35.7 million.
The ready-to-wear industry exports led the way in August, followed by automotive and chemicals, the TIM head said, citing the disruptions in the global supply chain due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ready-to-wear exports amounted to around $1.55 billion, while the automotive and chemicals industries managed to export $1.54 billion and $1.37 billion worth of goods over the month, according to the data.
“It is important that the ready-to-order sector reaches important figures with such intense orders. We think this intensity will also be very high in September. September, October and November cover a period in which our exports and all economies rebound. At a time when the whole world is more or less affected, we are overcoming these days by diversifying our exports and concentrating on market diversity,” Gülle said.
He added that there has been an 8% decline in 12-month exports. “Looking at the year-end export figure, we aim to close this 8% gap and reach last year’s exports. Our primary goal is to catch the last year’s export figure, which is why we did not revise our target. We are in a position to catch up with it in four months," Gülle said.
Hazelnuts and finished goods had the strongest performance in August with $92.8 million worth of exports, a 39.3% year-on-year increase, followed by tobacco with $71.3 million, an increase of 36.1%, and the fresh fruit and vegetable industry with $130.2 million, an 18.6% year-on-year rise, according to data.