The export of tobacco, which is among Turkey's main export items, exceeded $1 billion in 2016, according to statistics which surfaced on Thursday.
With an increase of 10 percent compared to the previous year, Turkey's tobacco exports amounted to $1.01 billion in 2016, including $652 million worth of tobacco-based products exported and $358 million worth of tobacco leaves exported.
Middle Eastern countries rose as the main exporters of cigarettes produced by Turkey. $501 million of the $652 million worth of cigarettes exported by Turkey were sold in Middle Eastern countries.
The Tobacco sector, with a 10-percent export increase, headed the list of sectors boosting export in Turkey in 2016 ahead of the automotive sector, among the 26 sectors represented under the roof organization of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM).
Tobacco exports generated the highest foreign currency income for Turkey after hazelnut exports, the Head of Aegean Exporters' Association Mahmut Özgener said.
Özgener also added that Turkey has modern processing facilities, and if the legislation is altered so that Turkey is allowed to process the tobacco imported from overseas, Turkey's tobacco exports would soon reach $1.5 billion.
Iran was the biggest importer of Turkish cigarettes in 2016, followed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. was the main export destination for tobacco leaves produced in Turkey in 2016, followed by Belgium and Russia.
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