Turkey’s foreign trade deficit rose by 50% y/y to $7.65bn in May, preliminary customs ministry data showed on June 2.
The trade deficit is the main driver behind Turkey’s chronic current account deficit problem. Prior to May, the foreign trade deficit increased by 17% y/y to stand at $4.95bn in April. The trade gap went through a temporary contraction in March having registered expansions in the first two months of this year.
Exports grew by 9% y/y to $13.2bn in May but the growth in imports was higher at 21% y/y, taking imports to a value of $20.9bn.
Over January-May, the trade deficit rose by 17% y/y to $25.2bn with exports rising by 9% y/y to $63.9bn and imports increasing by 11% y/y to $89.1bn.
The country’s energy import bill, meanwhile, jumped to $14.6bn in January-May from $10.6bn a year ago, ministry data also showed.
Shipments to Germany, Turkey’s largest trade partner, increased by 3% y/y to $5.93bn in January-May. China accounted for the largest share of Turkey’s imports despite a 13% y/y decline to $8.84bn in the first five months of the year.
Imports from Russia climbed 16% y/y to $7.31bn in January-May and rose by 19% y/y to reach $1.43bn in May alone.
Russia and Turkey are still negotiating the removal of some remaining trade restrictions. Moscow imposed sanctions after the Turkish air force downed a Russian fighter-bomber near the Syrian border in November 2015. It has lifted many of the restrictions but the ban on the import of tomatoes has remained in place.
On June 1, Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev announced that the Ankara government has lifted restrictions on supplies of Russian wheat. Turkey had apparently limited purchases to 20-25% of all import licences issued for the commodity, although the Ankara government had denied reports about the restrictions.
Turkey’s foreign trade shortfall for the full year of 2016 declined by 11.6% to $56.1bn. The government is forecasting a foreign trade deficit of $61bn for this year, with exports reaching $153bn and imports amounting to $214bn.
|Turkey's Foreign Trade|
|($ bn)||(%)||($ bn)||(%)||($ bn)||(%)|
|Source: tuik, gtb|