Exports reached $143.9 billion in 2015, an 8.6 percent decline from $157.6 billion in 2014, Economy Minister Mustafa Elitaş told the press on Monday.
Elitaş, who is responsible for the country's foreign trade, said in a joint press conference with Mehmet Büyükekşi, the head of the Turkish Exporters' Assembly (TİM), that the trade deficit narrowed 25.5 percent in 2015 as exports fell. He added that imports saw a 14.5 percent decline in the same period to $207.1 billion from $220.4 billion. "The political events and conflicts in the world, around Turkey in particular, were a major source of instability. We had to respond with new strategies to address the situation. Our experts are following new developments and are taking the necessary measures," Elitaş said.
Export volumes increased in 2015, although their value decreased. "The main reason for the decline in our exports to European countries, especially to Germany, was the drop in the value of the euro against the dollar," Elitaş said. "The euro fell 19.7 percent against the dollar in 2015 compared to the previous year. While the dollar value of our exports to Europe was $64.3 billion in 2014, this figure dropped to $58.7 billion in 2015," Elitaş said. "The low value of the euro has cost Turkish exporters $12.9 billion in revenue," he added.
Elitaş also announced measures to boost Turkey's foreign trade with increased endurance to foreign shocks in order to attain the government's 2023 goals. He said the ministry will open trade centers in various locations for firms that are struggling to position themselves in foreign markets, including offering increased support for office and warehousing needs along with marketing and constant legal and financial consultancy services in locations such as Frankfurt, Tokyo, Shanghai, New York City, Moscow and Paris. Elitaş added that they will conduct an intense trade blitz in 2016 focusing on the Asian-Pacific, Latin American and Sub-Saharan African regions. He stressed that legislative reform on free trade zones will also come to Parliament's agenda in 2016.
Elitaş highlighted that Turkey is among many countries experiencing losses in export performance due to a weak global economy. He says that the E.U., Germany, Brazil, the U.S. and China have seen a drop in export performance by 13, 12, 16, 6 and 2 percent respectively, compared to one year ago.
The automotive sector was again the driving force of Turkey's exports with a 4.8 percent decrease on an annual basis to $21.3 billion in 2015 from $22.27 billion in 2014. The textile industry saw annual exports decrease by 9.3 percent to $16.9 billion while the chemical sector came in third with 1.48 percent, to $16.3 billion.
Turkey's exports increased from $36.1 billion in 2002 to nearly $158 billion in 2014, according to the ministry.