Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Turkish lira depreciated by -132.6% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -23.8% from 2019 to 2020. Turkey’s weaker local currency makes Turkish imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the Turkish lira.
Applying a continental lens, about half of Turkey’s total imports by value in 2020 were purchased from fellow European countries. Asian trade partners supplied almost a third of import sales to Turkey while another 6.1% worth of goods originated from North America. Smaller percentage shares came from Africa (3.3%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (also 2.8%), then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia.
Given Turkey’s population of 84.2 million in 2020, the average value of Turkish imports per person was $2,600.
Turkey’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Turkey’s import purchases during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Turkey.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$28.9 billion (13.2% of total imports)
- Gems, precious metals: $26.6 billion (12.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $25.2 billion (11.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $17.1 billion (7.8%)
- Vehicles: $15.3 billion (7%)
- Iron, steel: $15.1 billion (6.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $11.7 billion (5.3%)
- Organic chemicals: $5.9 billion (2.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $5 billion (2.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $4.7 billion (2.2%)
Turkey’s top 10 imports accounted for well over two-thirds (70.9%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Leading the cost increases of imported products from 2019 to 2020 were gems and precious metals (up 99.7%) led by gold. In second place were vehicles (up 58.5%) and machinery including computers (up 17.3%).
The sole year-over-year decline was for Turkish imports of mineral fuels (down -29.8%) weighed down by Turkey’s lower purchases of refined oil and coal.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2020, Turkish importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of fossil fuel-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$6.3 billion (down -28.7% from 2019)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $2.7 billion (down -24.5%)
- Petroleum gases: $1.2 billion (down -15.4%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $341.5 million (down -5.1%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $148.8 million (down -23.1%)
- Electrical energy: $55.6 million (up 36.9%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $53.6 million (up 27%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $44.9 million (down -15.8%)
- Peat: $15.6 million (up 21.3%)
- Tar pitch, coke: $4.6 million (down -49.8%)
Among these import subcategories, Turkish purchases of electrical energy (up 36.9%), petroleum jelly and mineral waxes (up 27%) then peat (up 21.3%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of fossil fuel-related imports among Turkish businesses and consumers.
In 2020, Turkish importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of gems and precious metals.
- Gold (unwrought): US$25.2 billion (up 124.2% from 2019)
- Jewelry: $754.9 million (down -53.3%)
- Silver (unwrought): $459.9 million (up 141.4%)
- Diamonds (unmounted/unset): $121.1 million (down -39.8%)
- Imitation jewelry: $21.6 million (down -50.9%)
- Other precious metal items: $10.2 million (up 176.7%)
- Goldsmith/silversmith wares: $8.5 million (up 42.9%)
- Platinum (unwrought): $6.1 million (up 51.1%)
- Coins: $4.7 million (up 51,733%)
- Precious stone dust, powder: $4.6 million (up 16%)
Among these import subcategories, all Turkish purchases decreased from 2019 to 2020. Leading decliners were semi-finished iron or non-alloy steel products (down -40.9%), cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (down -25%) then flat-rolled other alloy steel products (down -21.5%).
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported gems and precious metals among Turkish businesses and consumers.
In 2020, Turkish importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$2.4 billion (up 44.8% from 2019)
- Engines (diesel): $2.2 billion (up 6.6%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $1.4 billion (up 20.9%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $1.1 billion (up 16.6%)
- Piston engines: $1.1 billion (down -9.1%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $1.1 billion (up 7.1%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $1 billion (up 23.1%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $940.3 million (up 30.6%)
- Piston engine parts: $872.2 million (up 7.5%)
- Turbo-jets: $829 million (down -36.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Turkish purchases of computers including optical readers (up 44.8%), miscellaneous machinery (up 30.6%) then liquid pumps and elevators (up 23.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of machinery-related imports among Turkish businesses and consumers.
In 2020, Turkish importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical equipment.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$3.4 billion (up 11.7% from 2019)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $1.1 billion (up 18.6%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $1.1 billion (up 13.8%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $1.1 billion (up 5.3%)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $986.7 million (up 74.5%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $953.5 million (up 13.4%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $911 million (up 9.7%)
- Electric motors, generators: $835.4 million (up 7.6%)
- Electric storage batteries: $595.5 million (up 17.5%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $568.5 million (up 16.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Turkish purchases of electric generating sets and converters (up 74.5%), lower-voltage switches or fuses (up 18.6%) then electric storage batteries (up 17.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of electrical equipment-related imports among Turkish businesses and consumers.
See also Top Turkish Trade Balances, Turkey’s Top 10 Exports and Turkey’s Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on February 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 17, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 17, 2021