Turkish exporters managed to achieve their best July sales to date, while the nation's 12-month rolling foreign sales also exceeded a threshold of $200 billion (TL 1.68 trillion) for the first time, Trade Minister Mehmet Muş announced Monday.
Industry representatives have been voicing optimism about performance in the second half of the year despite many challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Exports totaled $16.4 billion last month, posting a 10% year-on-year increase, Muş told a meeting in the capital Ankara to announce preliminary figures.
“The said amount marks the highest July export to date,” the minister noted.
The 12-month rolling export figure in July reached $210.5 billion, he stressed, exceeding the long-awaited $200 billion for the first time in history.
Imports also surged 17% to $20.7 billion in the same period, prompting the trade deficit to increase 52.5% to $4.3 billion, the data showed.
Analysts had said the demand would likely further rebound in the third quarter as pandemic-related restrictions are eased.
Exports have been boosted by recovery among Turkey’s trading partners and the country’s successful vaccination program.
Muş stressed the impact of the global recovery and the vaccination campaigns as well as the positive effects of the developments in the country’s prominent markets, including the eurozone, the U.K. and the U.S.
The January-July sales came in at $121.4 billion, surging 35% from the same period a year ago, Muş said.
"If we compare the seven-month figure with the pre-pandemic period (January-July 2019), this also marked a 16.4% increase," he added.
Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) Chairperson Ismail Gülle expressed optimism the country would push ahead toward $300 billion, a figure that he said could be reached in as little as five years.
Referring to the 12-month rolling exports, Gülle said “we have managed to exceed not only 2021-end target of $184 billion but also the $198 billion target set for 2022.”
“We have our eyes on the 2023 goal now,” he noted.
Imports from January through July, jumped 26% on an annual basis to $146.8 billion, the data showed.
The export-to-import coverage ratio went up 5.6 percentage points to 82.7% during the same period, Muş noted.
The foreign trade deficit narrowed 5% to $25.5 billion in the first seven months.
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.
In parallel to the rise in sales, the number of companies making exports also increased by 10% from January through July to reach nearly 80,000, said the minister.
The steel industry was the brightest spot in July, managing to boost its sales by as much as $709 million from a year ago, said Gülle, while the traditional leader, the automotive industry, topped the list among sectors as it performed $2 billion worth of sales in July.
The chemicals sector saw its exports surge $339 million, in addition to a $176 million and $109 million increase in ferrous and non-ferrous metals and jewelry exports, respectively.
Germany remained the top market as sales hit $1.4 billion, followed by the U.S. with $1 billion and the U.K. with $983 million, the data showed.
Exports to Italy saw the highest increase with $171 million, followed by a $155 million and a $141 million surge in sales to Spain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sales to the European Union, where almost half of the nation’s exports go, were up 13% to $7 billion.
The African continent received $1.4 billion worth of Turkish goods, followed by $1.3 billion of exports made to the Middle East and $1.2 billion sent to North America.