Business group expects earthquakes to cost Turkey $84bn and wipe $10bn from GDP

Business group expects earthquakes to cost Turkey $84bn and wipe $10bn from GDP
Iskenderun Port burnt for several days after the disaster struck after shipping containers set on fire. / TV5, screenshot
By Akin Nazli in Belgrade February 12, 2023

Turkey’s earthquake disaster looks set to cost the country’s economy $84bn and cause the nation a death toll in excess of 72,000, according to the assessments of a business group, the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (Turkonfed), which represents more than 50,000 companies. Turkonfed made the predictions on the impact of the February 6 earthquakes in a report released on February. By the evening of February 12, 29,605 earthquake deaths had been recorded in southern Turkey and 3,574 in northern Syria. Experts say the survival rate of people trapped after an earthquake is 74% within 24 hours but just 6% by the fifth day.

As regards the Turkonfed estimates, two warnings: firstly, bne IntelliNews has often maintained that Turkey’s statistical bodies have long been producing macro data sets that are totally inaccurate, and, secondly, there has to be real concern that given the scale of the disaster, the dead bodies of many people killed by the quakes will be just swept away with the debris. They will be recorded as “missing.” Unregistered migrants in the region are an even more complicated case.

Image: Reuters’ story on “The impact of last week's earthquake on Turkey's growth domestic product (GDP)” [sic].

There are far too many observers, including news services that need to focus harder on what the “G” in “GDP” refers to, who take Turkey’s macro data much too seriously. So much enthusiasm for highly dubious figures that make it on to paper and into headlines, perhaps not enough attention to the real costs, the realities people face, out there.

Turkonfed’s report holds that Turkey’s August 17, 1999 Izmit earthquake cost 18,373 lives and economic damage of $17bn, based on the exchange rates at that time.

For what they're worth, the figures on the consequences of last week’s disaster come via comparisons with the August 17 quake. So they take us to the conclusion that the catastrophe will hit Turkey’s economy to the tune of $84bn, with $74mn of that attributed to building losses and $10bn of GDP losses.

Turkey reported  GDP of around $800bn for 2021. It is expected to report a figure of around $800-850bn for 2023. Thus, based on the Turkonfed figures, the earthquakes will erase somewhere between 1% to 2% from GDP.

Another conclusion of Turkonfed is that the exports of the 10 provinces hit by the earthquakes will fall to below $15bn due to the wrecked Iskenderun port, which was on fire for several days after the disaster struck.

The region exported $22bn of goods in 2022. A loss of around $7bn is consequently expected, representing a 3% share of Turkey’s overall exports of $254bn in 2022.


Turkey: Exports (2022)
  USD thousand %
Turkey          254,171,899    100.00%
Earthquake region            21,570,652    8.49%
Gaziantep            11,196,596    4.41%
Hatay              4,067,430    1.60%
Adana              3,116,961    1.23%
Kahramanmaraş              1,411,709    0.56%
Malatya                 456,234    0.18%
Diyarbakır                 422,054    0.17%
Elazığ                 366,888    0.14%
Şanlıurfa                 313,082    0.12%
Kilis                 122,433    0.05%
Adıyaman                   97,263    0.04%

Table: Export revenues of the provinces hit by earthquakes.

Turkonfed expects Turkey’s budget deficit will rise to 5.4% of GDP. The government has been targeting a 2023 deficit of Turkish lira (TRY) 660bn, equal to around 3.4% of the TRY 18 trillion GDP target.

With Bloomberg HT suggesting that earthquake expenditures will equal 5.5% of GDP, Turkonfed, as a result, expects a 5.4% budget deficit.

Perhaps more meaningful are the earthquake-damaged infrastructure items listed by Turkonfed:


-        Hatay Airport

-        Hatay – Reyhanli road

-        Gaziantep road

-        Hatay road

-        Gaziantep – Osmaniye road

-        Adiyaman – Celikhan road

-        Many roads to towns and villages


-        Collapsed power distribution units.

-        Grids totally destroyed in some localities.

-        Main distribution facilities and lines partly repaired but intracity lines in towns and cities remain wiped out.

Natural gas

-        Pipelines exploded.

-        Gas flows to Antep, Hatay and Maras were cut.

-        Main lines were damaged or split. Repaired parts were split again by aftershocks.

Oil pipeline

-        Ceyhan terminal, which loads oil that flows through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline into vessels, was shut down for an audit of any possible damages. No damage was observed.


-        Communication services in the region, which hosts a total of 12mn mobile subscribers, were not totally shut down but very serious disruptions were experienced.

-        A total of 2,451 base stations collapsed.

-        Very serious disruptions continue.


-        Iskenderun State Hospital, which received a negative report on its earthquake resistance in 2012, collapsed.

-        Hatay City Hospital collapsed along with many private hospitals.

-        No exact figures have been reported on the number of collapsed hospitals.


-        No official information has been released on the number of collapsed schools.