ISTANBUL: Turmoil in Turkish trading partners including Iraq, Libya and Ukraine has slowed Turkey’s export growth so far this year, but the impact has been cushioned by a recovery in demand from the EU and North America, data showed Friday.
Turkish businesses selling everything from construction material to food have grown into major players in developing but fragile markets across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia in recent years.
Exports to Iraq, which had become Turkey’s second biggest export market, fell 46 percent to $570 million in July, more than double the rate of fall a month earlier when Islamists seized swaths of the country and kidnapped Turkish diplomats at the consulate in Mosul.
Unrest in Libya, where rival militias have been fighting in recent weeks, and in Ukraine, where separatist rebels are battling government forces, have also taken a toll, although both are much smaller markets for Turkey than Iraq.
“Six countries in our region with geopolitical risks had a negative impact on our seven-month exports. There were clear falls in Libya, Egypt, Russia and Ukraine,” said Mehmet Buyukeksi, chairman of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly.
But exports held steady in July at $12.5 billion despite a major hit from the three-day holiday for the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, bringing the cumulative figure for the first seven months of the year to $92.71 billion, up 5.7 percent on the same period of 2013.
Exports to the Middle East and to Africa fell by 18 percent and 10 percent respectively in July, declines which were offset by a rise of 11 percent to the European Union and 12 percent to North America, the TIM data showed.