Turkish Foreign Trade Gap Widens Over Russia, Iraq Export Woes

Turkey’s trade deficit widened in November to its biggest in 11 months as regional conflict and slumping oil prices hurt exports to Iraq and Russia.

Exports fell an annual 7.5 percent to $13.1 billion, while imports rose 0.2 percent to $21.4 billion, Turkey’s state statistics office in Ankara said today in a statement on its website. The $8.32 billion shortfall exceeded the median estimate of $7 billion in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Shipments to Iraq and Russia declined 29 percent and 23 percent respectively in November from a year ago, according to a Bloomberg calculation based on official data. The gap in the trade balance was exacerbated by gold imports worth $2 billion. That represents a 127 percent jump from a year ago and is probably a one-off increase, according to Levent Durusoy at Yatirim Finans Securities in Istanbul.

“There is a decline in exports to Russia because of lower purchasing power there due to falling oil prices, while shipments to Iraq were down due to the security situation,” Durusoy said by phone after the data. The offensive by Islamic State in northern Iraq led to a sharp fall in Turkish sales to the region.

Exports to the European Union fell 8.3 percent in November compared to a year ago, the statistics office said. “There is improvement in exports to the U.S. and Iran but they were not enough to compensate for the loss in trade with Europe,” Durusoy said.

Sales to Iran jumped 119 percent while those to the U.S. increased 28 percent in November, according to a Bloomberg calculation.

The lira erased earlier losses after the trade gap report was published and was little changed against the dollar at 2.3279 at 1:05 p.m. in Istanbul.

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