Foreign trade deficit widened 17.2% y/y to $6.15bn in March, the first increase in trade deficit this year, driven by the sharp decline in exports in the month, data of the statistics office TUIK showed on April 30. Analysts had expected a foreign trade deficit of $6.24bn. Turkey’s foreign trade shortfall fell by 37.2% y/y in January and it dropped 9.6% y/y in February.
Exports took a hit in March, falling by 14.4% y/y to $12.6bn while the pace of decline in imports slowed to 6.1% y/y from 7.2% y/y in the previous month and the 13.7% y/y decline in January. Imports amounted to $18.7bn in March with consumer goods imports rising 12.7% y/y, capital goods and intermediate goods imports falling 10.6% y/y and 8.1% y/y, respectively.
On a seasonally and calendar adjusted basis, exports fell 5.6% m/m and imports declined 3.5% m/m in March.
Poor export performance was visible across the board. Exports to the EU fell by 11.8% y/y to $5.3bn. Shipments of goods to the Middle East, which holds a 22.9% share in total exports, were down 4.4% y/y while exports to North America (5% share in total exports) rose by 14.7% y/y. Exports to Africa (8.5% share in total) fell by 11.4% y/y in the month.
Data from TUIK also showed that Turkey’s exports to Germany and Iraq dropped 18.8% y/y and 25.4% y/y, respectively.
Turkey paid $3.69bn for energy imports in March, representing an 18.9% y/y decline while the energy import bill totalled $10.9bn in the first three months of 2015, pointing to a 22.1% decline from a year ago. Precious metals exports (mostly gold) fell by 28.6% y/y to $1.3bn and imports declined 17.1% y/y to $296mn.
In Q1, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit shrank 12.5% y/y to $15.17bn. Exports fell by 7.5% y/y to $37.1bn and imports declined by 9% y/y to $52.3bn in the first three months of the year. The government foresees a foreign trade deficit of $85bn for 2015. It expects exports and imports to be $173bn and $258bn this year. Turkey’s foreign trade deficit fell 15.3% last year to $84.6bn.
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