April trade data awful; export recovery will be painful

As per the official data in April, Turkey’s exports and imports decreased by 41.4% and 25.0% respectively compared with April 2019 to USD 8.9 billion and USD 13.6 billion. Thus, the foreign trade deficit increased by 67.0% in April 2020 to USD 4.6 billion.

In April 2020, seasonally and calendar adjusted exports and imports decreased by 31.9% and 27.9 %, respectively, compared with the previous month.

On cumulative basis, Turkey’s exports decreased by 13.7% while in contrast imports increased 10.3%, in January-April 2020 placing exports to USD 51.7 billion and imports to USD 69.2 billion. The accompanying trade deficit is USD 17.5 billion which is up by 102.3% in January-April 2020.

The manufacturing products dominate Turkey’s exports with a share of 94.3% during the first four months of the year as intermediate goods account for 73.8% of it.  Turkey’s top export markets remains to be Germany with almost 10% share while the top import market is China (9.5%) followed by Germany (9.2%) and Russia (9.2%).     

The incoming results while Turkey’s top exports markets were in the coronavirus lockdowns are of course no surprise.  Similarly, the sharp domestic demand contraction at home also slowed down the import growth turning it to negative. As the reopening stimulate demand across the world, the ongoing concern’s amidst the spike in the unemployment rates and worries related to further rounds of virus attacks in the coming months translate into weak recovery for the world economy.  With a serious hit from the fx generating tourism sector Turkey stands vulnerable to export revenue losses; hence the Turkish lira given its USD 168 billion of external debt payments due in the short term.