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Turkish exporters break sales records to 70 countries in 2023

Turkish exporters made shipments to some 240 countries and customs territories throughout last year, achieving their highest sales in history to 70 of these nations, the country’s Trade Ministry said Tuesday.

The nation’s exports reached a third straight annual peak to a total of $255.8 billion (TL 7.77 trillion) in 2023, a 0.6% year-over-year increase from $254 billion in 2022, according to official data.

The record came despite multiple challenges, including global tightening that curbed demand, including in the EU, Türkiye’s biggest export market, geopolitical conflicts in the region and devastating earthquakes that struck the southeastern region earlier in 2023.

Sales totaled $225.4 billion in 2021 after they were hit by the coronavirus pandemic and dropped to as low as $169.5 billion in 2020. The government’s medium-term program (MTP) estimates were set at $255 billion for 2023 and $267 billion for 2024.

At $361.8 billion, imports in 2023 also came below the program’s estimate of $367 billion.

The sales figure led Türkiye to lift its share in global exports to 1.06%, up from 1.02% in 2022 and a major leap from just 0.55% back in 2002, the Trade Ministry said.

Some 38,574 companies engaged in overseas sales for the first time in 2023, according to the ministry, taking the total number of exporting firms to 139,830, a 339% increase from some 31,855 some two decades ago.

The Trade Ministry further underscored the momentum in trade and economic relations with the Near and Middle Eastern nations.

Export to the region rose by 2.2% to $46.2 billion last year. Sales Turkic republics reached $10.2 billion, marking an all-time high with a 26.9% increase. Shipments to member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) totaled $67.3 billion, showing a 3.68% increase and a new peak.

The ministry also said that while imports from the EU countries decreased by 16.1% in January-November 2023, Türkiye’s sales to the bloc jumped by 1.2% in the whole year, reaching $104.3 billion.

The manufacturing industry accounted for 94.2% of the total exports, with an amount of $241 billion, the statement added. The share of medium-high and high-tech product sales rose to 40.3%.

Notable high-tech exports included aircraft and related components, pharmaceuticals, immune products, video recording devices and photovoltaic cells.

In 2023, exports exceeding $1 billion were recorded in 54 products, out of which 39 simultaneously saw their highest sales ever.

Shipments exceeding $1 billion were made to 49 countries in 2023, the Trade Ministry said. Some 30 cities in Türkiye also achieved sales figures surpassing $1 billion.

Providing insights into global exports of Turkish products, the ministry said Türkiye is the world’s top seller of construction iron, raw/block/semi-processed marble-travertine, cement, hazelnuts, flour, refined sunflower oil, dried grapes, dried apricots, dried figs, shell-less pistachios and bulgur.

The nation is top in Europe in home textiles and second globally in carpet exports. It ranks fourth globally in exports of buses, minibusses, electric ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.

It is the world’s fifth-biggest exporter of refrigerators, deep freezers and small electric household appliances, while it ranks seventh in total textile and ready-to-wear exports and eighth in truck, van and pickup sales.

Exports are among the government’s top priorities, which seeks to rely on them to ensure sustainable economic growth.

Türkiye has embraced more conventional policymaking after the May elections and delivered aggressive monetary tightening aimed at arresting soaring inflation, reducing trade deficits, rebuilding foreign exchange reserves and stabilizing the Turkish lira.

Since June, the country’s central bank has lifted its one-week repo rate by 3,650 basis points to 45%. The bank said last week it completed its aggressive tightening cycle and said it would maintain current levels “as long as needed” to bring about the desired disinflation.

Inflation rose to nearly 65% last month and is expected to peak at 70%-75% in May before dipping to about 36% by the end of 2024 as tightening cools prices.

The Trade Ministry affirmed the commitment to lift exports further and achieve the government’s goals set for this year.

“With the effective policies and strategies we are implementing to elevate our exports to higher levels, we continue our efforts to achieve the 2024 Middle-Term Program goal of reaching a $267 billion goods export volume,” the statement said.

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