Refined petroleum oils, gold and iron or steel scrap were major factors behind Turkey’s highest trade deficits by product, while Russia and China placed first and second respectively among trade partners with which Turkey incurred the highest negative trade balances.
Turkey’s total trade balance for all products equaled -US$55.1 billion in 2018, down -48% from the -$105.9 billion in red ink during 2011. Year over year, Turkey’s -$55.1 billion trade deficit for 2018 represents a -28.2% reduction from its -$76.8 billion deficit one year earlier during 2017.
To put Turkey’s -$55.1 billion trade deficit metric into perspective, the country’s total external debt encompassing both public and private red ink equaled -$453.4 billion at March 2019. Turkey’s external debt is the equivalent of roughly 8 times its negative international trade balance.
Top Turkish Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 major products generated a surplus subtotal of $30 billion for Turkey in its global trade during 2018. Metrics listed below highlight Turkey’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners.
- Cars: US$6.5 billion (Reversing a -$2 billion deficit in 2011)
- Trucks: $4.4 billion (Up 65%)
- Jewelry: $3.6 billion (Up 133.6%)
- Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods: $3.3 billion (Down -29%)
- T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet): $2.7 billion (Down -6.7%)
- Women’s clothing (not knit or crochet): $2.5 billion (Up 53.2%)
- Woven carpets/textile floor coverings: $1.9 billion (Up 50.9%)
- Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet): $1.8 billion (Up 92.2%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $1.7 billion (Up 123.3%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $1.6 billion (Up 21.7%)
Exported Turkish goods that generated the greatest percentage improvements in surpluses since 2011 were: jewelry (up 133.6%), public-transport vehicles (up 123.3%) then knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (up 92.2%) trailed by trucks (up 65%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$43.8 billion for Turkey in international trade during 2018. Turkey has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Processed petroleum oils: -US$9 billion (Up 0.6% since 2011)
- Gold (unwrought): -$8.7 billion (Up 82.4%)
- Iron or steel scrap: -$6.9 billion (Down -27.7%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: -$4.4 billion (Up 243.5%)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$3 billion (Up 8.1%)
- Propylene/olefin polymers: -$2.9 billion (Up 6.9%)
- Aluminum (unwrought): -$2.4 billion (Up 7.6%)
- Refined copper, unwrought alloys: -$2.3 billion (Down -23.3%)
- Ethylene polymers: -$2.12 billion (Up 7.1%)
- Engines (diesel): -$2.08 billion (Down -14%)
Turkey’s red ink in global trade expanded at the fastest rate since 2011 for the following products: coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 243.5%), gold (up 82.4%) then mobile phones (up 8.1%).
Leading trade product categories showing deficit declines was iron or steel scrap via a -27.7% year-over-year decline.
In 2018, Turkey generated a surplus subtotal worth $22.7 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- Iraq: US$6.9 billion (Down -15.8% since 2011)
- United Kingdom: $3.7 billion (Up 58.4%)
- Spain: $2.22 billion (Reversing a -$2.3 billion deficit)
- Israel: $2.18 billion (Up 553.1%)
- Netherlands: $1.5 billion (Reversing a $761.9 million deficit)
- Romania: $1.4 billion (Reversing a $922.5 million deficit)
- Syrian Arab Republic: $1.3 billion (Up 0.3%)
- Morocco: $1.3 billion (Up 154.3%)
- Cyprus: $1.16 billion (Up 22.9%)
- Libya: $1.13 billion (Up 86.1%)
Based on percentage growth, surpluses at the expense of the following trade partners grew at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2018: Israel (up 553.1%), Morocco (up 154.3%), Libya (up 86.1%) and the United Kingdom (up 58.4%).
Turkey experienced a losing international trade relationship with some countries. All told, the following 10 trade partners created a -$69.3 billion deficit subtotal in 2018 from exchanging exports and imports.
- Russia: -US$18.6 billion (Up 3.5% since 2011)
- China: -$17.8 billion (Down -7.4%)
- India: -$6.4 billion (Up 11.7%)
- South Korea: -$5.4 billion (Down -6.2%)
- Iran: -$4.5 billion (Down -48.8%)
- Germany: -$4.3 billion (Down -52.7%)
- United States: -$4.1 billion (Down -64.4%)
- Japan: -$3.6 billion (Down -8.1%)
- Brazil: -$2.8 billion (Up 132.4%)
- Malaysia: -$1.8 billion (Up 27.6%)
Turkey’s negative net exports with Brazil grew by 132.4% trailed by a 27.6% deficit expansion with Malaysia, an 11.7% increase in red ink with India, and a 3.5% increase thanks to Russia from 2011 to 2018.
Notable shrinkages in Turkey’s per-country deficits were with the United States (down -64.4%), Germany (down -52.7%) and Iran (down -48.8%).
See also Turkey’s Top 10 Imports and Turkey’s Top Trading Partners
CEIC Data, External Debt (for specified countries). Accessed on August 11, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 11, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 6, 2019
The World Factbook, Field Listing: World, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 6, 2019
Wikipedia, Economy of Turkey. Accessed on February 6, 2019