Turkish exporters saw the highest increase in sales to the U.S. in the first month of the year, according to data.
The rise comes as the relations between the two NATO allies enter a new period under U.S. President Joe Biden, who took office on Jan. 20, replacing Donald Trump.
Exports to the U.S. were up $170.42 million (TL 1 billion) in January to hit nearly $810.25 million, up from $639.83 million in 2020, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency (AA) from the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) Monday.
Trade between the two countries has been on a steady rise over the last several years, and even the coronavirus pandemic could not prevent the volume from exceeding $20 billion in 2020.
The bilateral commerce amounted to some $20.68 billion in 2018, before it saw a slight drop to nearly $19.3 billion in 2019, according to Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data.
The volume again increased in 2020, overshadowed by the pandemic, surging to approximately $20.1 billion, the data showed.
Ankara has said it hopes for better relations with Washington under the new administration.
U.S. Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield last week said his country wants to maintain its long-standing economic cooperation with Turkey, expressing Washington’s willingness to further strengthen existing commercial ties.
“Although we have strong trade ties already, the U.S. government would like to continue to strengthen these ties and increase bilateral trade,” Satterfield told AA. “Beyond the prosperity that bilateral trade supports in both countries, working together can help both countries to diversify supply chains – something the pandemic has highlighted once again as very important,” the envoy said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a close relationship with Trump during his term, which was also marked by disagreements on many issues.
Erdoğan and Trump in June 2019 embraced a goal to increase the bilateral trade target from $75 billion to $100 billion.
Whether Biden will embrace the goal remains to be seen but Turkish businesspeople have expressed hopes that the new administration would contribute to strengthening ties.
Meanwhile, among other markets where exporters logged a significant increase on amount basis in January were Lebanon, France, Germany and Peru, the data showed.
Sales to Lebanon were up $72.1 million to $141.37 million and those to France increased by $70.81 million to $688.84 million.
Exports to Germany and Peru rose by $50.56 million to $1.32 billion and by $47.66 million to $56.39 million, respectively, the data showed.
The overall figure made Germany Turkey’s largest market in the month when the country’s total exports increased by 2.5% to surpass $15 billion, the highest monthly figure ever.
It was followed by Italy with $810.25 million. The U.S. came in second and the U.K. ranked third with $688.84 million.
Ankara and London in late December signed a free trade deal that became effective as of January when the U.K. formally left the European Union.
The landmark deal is Turkey’s most important trade deal since its 1995 Customs Union with the EU.
In contrast, exports to Saudi Arabia have fallen the most in the first month of the year, hit by the informal boycott of Turkish goods, despite recent efforts to better strained ties between Ankara and Riyadh.
Sales to the kingdom dropped 92.5% year-on-year in January, from nearly $221.9 million to nearly $16.6 million, the data showed.
Among others, exports to the Netherlands also posted a noteworthy decline as sales were down $100.18 million to $379.68 million.
Exports to Iraq fell $56 million to $565.8 million and sales to Norway and Belgium dropped by $53.88 million to $25 million by $51.85 million to $257.31 million, respectively.