Mobile imports raise current account gap

Mobile imports raise current account gap

Ahmet Can ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Mobile imports raise current account gap

Turkey’s mobile phone imports totaled 6.2 million devices worth $211 milliom in the first six months. REUTERS photo

The negative impact of mobile phone imports, boosted by the rising demand for smartphones, on Turkey’s current account deficit is growing at alarming rates.

The country’s mobile phone imports, which have totaled 6.2 million devices in the first half of this year, prompt fears that it will add $5 billion to the current account deficit at year-end.

The imports are 7 percent higher than the same period last year, when Turkey bought 5.7 million mobile phones from abroad, as Information and Communications Technologies Authority of Turkey (BTK) data indicates.

BTK chairman Tayfun Acarer said Turkey imported almost all of its mobile phone needs, but could produce only a small portion. No country can produce all parts of a cellphone by itself, Acarer said, adding that it could at least assemble main sections, there was no reason Turkey couldn’t. “The main board, battery or outer sections could be produced in Turkey, or the software could be developed here,” he said, adding that Turkey cellphone imports are at critical levels, which required review.

Estimations done based on the 10.8 million mobile phone imports undertaken in 2012 show the overall imports will reach 14 million by the end of 2013.

Travelers also carry cellphones into the country. These imports, calculated to total 1 million, also should be taken into consideration.

The total cost of mobile imports is estimated to be around 4.1 billion Turkish Liras ($211 billion) for the first six months, and with a spur in sales, it is expected to reach 10 billion liras.

Smartphones cost more

Half of imported phones are smartphones. The share of smartphones, which have been moving toward dominating worldwide mobile phone markets, was 40 percent in the first six months of last year.
Acarer said the rising share of smartphones in overall imports raised the cost of imports.“Smartphones are at least three to four times more expensive than cellphones,” he said. “Mobile phones haven’t changed much compared to previous years, but the amount paid increases. We have begun to pay remarkable amounts, especially lately.”