Turkish Trade Minister announces record January exports, following best ever 2023

Turkish businesses have broken their country’s record for January exports. Trade figures show a year-on-year increase of 3.6%, with exports last month worth more than $20 billion to the Turkish economy – the highest ever exports total for a January.

The good news was shared by Türkiye’s Trade Minister Ömer Bolat, while he was in Malatya province on Friday to see the recovery of the region following the devastating earthquakes last year.

Addressing a meeting of local businesspeople and representatives of the Türkiye Exporters Assembly, Trade Minister Bolat said:

“In January 2024, our exports increased by 3.6% compared to the same month last year and reached 20 billion 28 million dollars. As a result, we set a record for the highest January exports in our history.”

The minister also stated that the country’s imports had shrunk by 22% to $26.2 billion last month, resulting in the country’s foreign trade deficit narrowing by 57% to $6.2 billion.

Bolat said the export-to-import ratio had increased by 18.9 points, reaching 76.4% in January.

Among the factors the Trade Minister cited as aiding the country’s strong export performance were more stable global energy prices and the measures the Turkish government took in the second half of 2023 to stimulate more exports, such as countering unfair trade practices, and addressing the excessive increase in gold and automotive imports.

Germany remains Türkiye’s biggest export market

The best performing export sectors for Türkiye in January was the automotive sector, which generated $2.78 billion worth of sales last month.

The second largest sector was the chemicals industry with some $2.3 billion of sales. Textiles, and specifically ready-to-wear fashion, and electronics, were the third and fourth best performing sectors, respectively generating $1.4 and $1.2 billion of export sales.

The data for January 2024 shows that Germany remains Türkiye’s biggest export market, receiving $1.76 billion worth of Turkish goods last month.

The next two big destinations for Turkish exports in January were the United States, with sales of $1.2 billion, followed by Iraq exports totalling nearly $1.1 billion.

Flowing in the other direction, most imports into Türkiye were from Russia, with a total value of nearly $4 billion. This was followed by China at $2.9 billion and Germany at $1.92 billion.

2023 a record high in exports

January’s highest ever export figures come off the back of a record year of exports in Türkiye. In a further sign of post-covid economic recovery, exports reached a third straight annual high in 2023, totalling $255.8 billion, up from $254 billion in 2022, marking a slight increase of 0.6%.

During the Covid period, export sales had dropped significantly in 2020 to $169.5 billion, before bouncing back well in 2021 to $225.4.

Trade Minister Ömer Bolat visits Talu Tekstil Factory in Malatya; ready-to-wear textiles is Türkiye’s third biggest export sector

Türkiye’s strong trading figures are even more striking given they come in the wake of the powerful earthquakes that struck the country on 6 February in 2023, killing over 53,000 people, and destroying or damaging 850,000 buildings across southeast Türkiye, including 170,000 businesses.

Minister Bolat stated the huge natural disaster – the worst in the Turkish Republic’s 100 year history – cost the country $6 billion in export losses.

Other challenges geopolitical conflicts in the region and the cost of living crisis, including in the EU, Türkiye’s biggest export market, which has curbed consumer demand.

Following the country’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections in May 2023, which saw the incumbent President Erdoğan returned to office, the government has embraced more conventional fiscal policies as it seeks to check the country’s steep inflation, stabilise the Turkish lira and rebuild foreign exchange reserves.