Gold, iron or steel scrap, coal and refined petroleum oils were major factors behind Turkey’s highest trade deficits by product. Russia, China and India represent the three trade partners with which Turkey incurred the highest negative trade balances.
Turkey’s total trade balance for all products equaled -US$29.6 billion in 2019, down -64.8% from the -$84.1 billion in red ink during 2012. Year over year, Turkey’s -$29.6 billion trade deficit for 2019 represents a -46.4% reduction from its -$55.1 billion deficit one year earlier during 2018.
To put Turkey’s most recent -$29.6 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. Consequently, Turkey’s external debt is the equivalent of roughly 15 times its negative international trade balance.
Top Turkish Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 major products generated a surplus subtotal of $28.2 billion for Turkey in its global trade during 2019. Metrics listed below highlight Turkey’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners.
- Cars: US$8.5 billion (Reversing a -$1.2 billion deficit in 2012)
- Trucks: $4.4 billion (Up 89.1%)
- Jewelry: $3.5 billion (Up 61.2%)
- Women’s clothing (not knit or crochet): $2.7 billion (Up 46.3%)
- Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods: $2.68 billion (Down -50.1%)
- T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet): $2.6 billion (Down -12%)
- Woven carpets/textile floor coverings: $2.1 billion (Up 26.9%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $2 billion (Up 162.1%)
- Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet): $1.8 billion (Up 63.9%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $1.6 billion (Up 6.8%)
Exported Turkish goods that generated the greatest percentage improvements in surpluses since 2012 were: public-transport vehicles (up 162.1%), trucks (up 89.1%), knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (up 63.9%) then jewelry (up 61.2%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$35.2 billion for Turkey in international trade during 2019. Turkey has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Gold (unwrought): -US$9.2 billion (Reversing a $5.2 billion surplus in 2012)
- Iron or steel scrap: -$5.5 billion (Down -41.2%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: -$3.6 billion (Up 217.6%)
- Processed petroleum oils: -$2.8 billion (Down -67.9%)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$2.8 billion (Up 4.1%)
- Propylene/olefin polymers: -$2.76 billion (Up 0.9%)
- Miscellaneous aircraft, spacecraft (e.g. helicopters, launchers): -$2.3 billion (Down -11.2%)
- Wheat: -$2,2 billion (Up 105.1%)
- Refined copper, unwrought alloys: -$2.04 billion (Down -26.8%)
- Aluminum (unwrought): -$2.03 billion (Down -0.2%)
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 217.6%), wheat (up 105.2%) then mobile phones (up 4.1%).
Leading trade product categories showing deficit declines was processed petroleum oils via a -67.9% annual decline.
In 2019, Turkey generated a surplus subtotal worth $28.2 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- Iraq: US$6.5 billion (Down -39.5% since 2012)
- United Kingdom: $5.4 billion (Up 77.3%)
- Spain: $3.5 billion (Reversing a -$2.3 billion deficit)
- Israel: $2.6 billion (Up 325%)
- Netherlands: $2.4 billion (Reversing a -$416.2 million deficit)
- Egypt: $1.8 billion (Down -21.7%)
- Morocco: $1.7 billion (Up 190.6%)
- Libya: $1.5 billion (Down -13.8%)
- Slovenia: $1.45 billion (Up 515%)
- Romania: $1.4 billion (Reversing a -$741 million deficit)
Based on percentage growth, surpluses at the expense of the following trade partners grew at the fastest pace from 2012 to 2019: Slovenia (up 515%), Israel (up 325%), Morocco (up 190.6%) and the United Kingdom (up 77.3%).
Turkey experienced a losing international trade relationship with some countries. All told, the following 10 trade partners created a -$58.9 billion deficit subtotal in 2019 from exchanging exports and imports.
- Russia: -US$18.5 billion (Down -7.1% since 2012)
- China: -$15.8 billion (Down -14.4%)
- India: -$5.5 billion (Up 9.4%)
- South Korea: -$4.7 billion (Down -7.9%)
- Japan: -$3 billion (Down -7.6%)
- United States: -$2.97 billion (Down -65.2%)
- Germany: -$2.6 billion (Down -68.9%)
- Switzerland: -$2.3 billion (Up 4%)
- Brazil: -$2 billion (Up 158.1%)
- Malaysia: -$1.5 billion (Up 36.1%)
Turkey’s negative net exports with Brazil grew by 158.1% trailed by a 36.1% deficit expansion with Malaysia and a 9.4% increase for India from 2012 to 2019.
Notable shrinkages in Turkey’s per-country deficits were with Germany (down -68.9%), the United States (down -65.2%) and China (down -14.4%).
See also Turkey’s Top 10 Imports and Turkey’s Top Trading Partners
CEIC Data, External Debt (for specified countries). Accessed on February 4, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 4, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 4, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 4, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 4, 2020