As from January 1st, 2020, it is clear that the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK- TurkStat) has decided to give precedence to the General Trade System (GTS) calculation method of foreign trade over the Special Trade System (STS) calculation method. TurkStat has accordingly prepared its detailed statistical data for foreign trade based on the GTS method back to and including the year 2013. TurkStat has also continued to prepare foreign trade figures according to the STS method, but is likely to discontinue presentation of STS data at some time in the future. For this reason, our website has decided to analyse Turkey’s foreign trade data according to the GTS method as from January 2020, and visitors to our website should be aware that our analyses will be based on different data prior to and subsequent to 2019 yearend.
As a reminder, there are broadly two approaches, closely linked with customs procedures, used for the measurement of international trade in goods. These are the general trade system and the special trade system. The general trade system (GTS) is the wider concept and under it the statistical territory includes customs warehouses, all types of free zones, free circulation area and premises for inward processing. The special trade system (STS), on the other hand, is a narrower concept. Customs warehouses, all types of free zones and premises for inward processing are excluded from the statistical territory by the strict definition of the special trade system; thus only imports and exports of the free circulation area are recorded.
According to figures prepared by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK- TurkStat) in cooperation with Turkey’s Ministry of Trade, and using the General Trade System (GTS) calculation method, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit was USD 5,391 million in March 2020, 181.6% higher than the figure for the same month of the previous year, and 79.4% higher than the deficit figure of USD 3,005 million for the previous month of February 2020.
Exports totalled USD 13,422 million and imports totalled USD 18,813 million in March 2020. The export figure was a 17.8% fall and the import figure a 3.1% increase on the figures for the same month of the previous year. The export figure was 8.3% lower and the import figure 6.7% higher than the figures for the previous month of February 2020. The fall in export figures was as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which during March has adversely affected global trade. Turkey’s automotive industry, the locomotive behind Turkey’s exports, has for example been particularly hard hit with all manufacturing facilities having to suspend production.
For the first quarter of 2020, the trade deficit was USD 12,906 million, 117.3% higher than the figure for the same period of the previous year. Exports totalled USD 42,749 million and imports totalled USD 55,655 million in March 2020. The export figure was a 4% decrease and the import figure a 10.3% increase on the figures for the same period of the previous year.
The trade deficit for the year of 2019 was USD 29,505 million, a fall of 45.3% on the previous year. Total exports were USD 180,839 million, a 2.1% increase, and total imports were USD 210,344 million, a 9% fall on the figures for the previous year.
Turkey’s main export item in March 2020 was again road transport vehicles with USD 1,741 million, which is 13% of total exports. Automotive exports are followed by machinery with 10.3% of total exports. Turkey’s main import item in March 2020 was energy substances with USD 2,736 million, which is 14.5% of total imports, followed by machinery imports at 10.8% of total imports. With regards the full year of 2019, automotive exports were 14.9% of total exports and energy substances imports were 19.8% of total imports.
Turkey’s exports to the EU, Turkey’s main trading partner, were USD 6,200 million in March 2020, 22.3% lower than the figure for the same month of the previous year. The share of total Turkish exports to the EU was 46.2% in March 2020, compared with 48.9% in the same month of the previous year. Exports to the EU decreased by 11.7% compared with the previous month of February. With regards the full year of 2019, Turkey’s exports to the EU were 48.7% of its total exports.
Germany, the EU’s largest economy, was the leading recipient of Turkish goods in March 2020, with USD 1,282 million. USA followed with USD 880 million, UK with USD 801 million, Italy with USD 541 million, Spain with USD 507 million, and France and Iraq with USD 490 million apiece. With regards the full year of 2019, rankings were as follows: Germany (USD 16,624 million), UK (USD 11,281 million), Iraq (USD 10,224 million), Italy (USD 9,754 million), USA (USD 8,972 million), Spain (USD 8,141 million), and France (USD 7,946 million).
Germany was also the leading exporter to Turkey in March 2020 with USD 1,950 million, followed by China with USD 1,420 million, the USA with USD 1,417 million, Russia with USD 1,378 million, Switzerland with USD 991 million, Italy with USD 897 million, France with USD 598 million, South Korea with USD 583 million, and UK with USD 482 million. With regards the full year of 2019, rankings were as follows: Russia (USD 23,117 million), Germany (USD 19,279 million), China (USD 19,128 million), USA (USD 11,847 million), Italy (USD 9,349 million), France (USD 6,760 million), India (USD 6,635 million), South Korea (USD 5,777 million) and UK (USD 5,638 million).
The percentage of imports covered by exports was 71.3% in March 2020, compared with 89.5% in the same month of the previous year. With regards the full year of 2019, the percentage of imports covered by exports was 86% compared with 76.6% in the previous year.
Using the Special Trade System (STS) calculation method of foreign trade, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit in March 2020 was USD 5,279 million, with exports of USD 12,676 million and imports of USD 17,955 million. The deficit for the full year of 2019 was USD 31,232 million, with exports of USD 171,471 million and imports of USD 202,703 million.