Arab Spring nations back in business, exports climb

Arab Spring nations back in business, exports climb

KAYSERİ - Hürriyet Daily News
Arab Spring nations back in business, exports climb

Trucks line up at an international port in Kocaeli, a leading exporter province in Turkey’s northwest. Turkey’s exports reached $12.6 billion in March, according to figures. AA photo

Turkey’s exports were up by 8.1 percent in March compared with the same period last year, reaching $12.6 billion, according to data from the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM).

While Turkish exports to mature markets in the European Union registered a drop, Germany remained the largest exports market.

Exports to alternative markets in Africa witnessed significant rates of increase. In the first quarter of the year exports rose 10.5 percent to $34.7 billion compared with the first quarter of 2011, said Mehmet Büyükekşi, the head of the assembly, at a meeting in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, where he disclosed the TİM exports data yesterday. The annual export figure has hit almost $138.3 billion in the last 12 months as of end of March.

March 2012’s exports were the second highest monthly figures in the history of the Republic, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said yesterday, adding that it was also a record for March exports.

‘Figures not a joke’

“These figures are no April Fools’ joke. I am not surprised. Our exporters have a goal of $150 billion for 2012,” he said in a written statement. “Although exports to European Union countries dropped by about 3 percent and to Syria by 77 percent in March compared with the same month last year, the record amount of total exports shows that Turkish exporters are still likely to reach their target.”

The automotive sector was the power engine of exports with $1.9 billion in volume, followed by the chemicals industry with $1.6 billion and the textiles industry with $1.49 billion in exports, according to TİM’s report. However, the defense industry registered the highest increase in exports in March. Defense exports rose by a whopping 93.2 percent to $123.6 million anually. Exports of aquaculture and animal products were up by 42, and carpets by 39 percent.

Noting that Turkey had record export increases to many countries in March 2012 compared with March 2011, Büyükekşi said, “We have begun make up for the adverse effects of the Arab Spring. Exports to Libya jumped 658 percent [from the same month in 2011], to Yemen by 480 percent, to Ethiopia by 424 percent, to Bahrain by 193 percent, to Nigeria by 155 percent, and to Egypt by 102 percent.”

He mentioned Morocco, exports to which rose 31 percent, and Iraq, where exports rose by 44 percent.
In terms of region, exports rose by 59 percent to African countries, 22 percent to the Commonwealth of Independent States and 16 percent to the Middle East, while exports to the EU dropped by 3.5 percent. “That is to say, we are making up the loss in Europe by diversifying in alternative markets. Especially exports to BRIC countries are rapidly rising, with exports to China rising 18 percent, to Russia 19 percent, to Brazil 14 percent, and to India 43 percent in March,” Büyükekşi said.

However, Germany was still Turkey’s number one exports market, with almost $1.3 billion in March. Iraq followed Europe’s largest economy with more than $900 million. The United Kingdom was the third largest exports market for Turkey with $672 million dollars.

“China had a trade deficit of $31.5 billion in February, which is one of the highest figures the country has revealed in recent years for a monthly trade deficit. This shows us that China is on its way to becoming the largest importer [in the world]. This is a new window of opportunity,” Büyükekşi said. k