Apr 08, 2014 - 0 Comments - Data -

Foreign Trade from a Historical Perspective

Nalan Yıtmaç

During the last decade, compared to the 1990s, Turkey experienced a significant expansion in the volume of foreign trade (combined imports and exports). With the exception of a dip during 2009, the volume of foreign trade has been consistently growing. Let us note however that the growth slows down in 2012 (Table 1).

Table 1

When investigated separately, we observe that the volume of imports is larger than that of exports and the two series display a parallel tendency. When exports grow imports also grow and when exports shrink, imports also shrink. Only in 2012 (due to an exceptional circumstance pertaining the export of unprecendent amount of gold) exports grow without a comparable growth in imports.

Table 2

It is possible to compare the export and import numbers by looking at the balance of foreign trade. In Table 3, where the balance of foreign trade is measured against the overall GDP, the negative values indicate a trade deficit. In 1990, the trade deficit was only 3% of the GDP of Turkey. In 2011, the trade deficit has reached 8% of the country’s GDP. In particular, through out the 2000s, the trade deficit has increased rather consistently (with the exception of 2009, the year of global financial crisis, and 2012).

Table 3

When we look at the balance of trade of Turkey from a historical perspective, we observe that Turkey has experienced a trade deficit in almost every year since 1945. From 1923 to 2012, the proportion of exports covered by imports is on average 77%. During 2000s this ratio remains below the average of the entire century of the Republic.

Due to the structural characteristics of the economy of Turkey, energy is one of the main product lines which lead to foreign trade deficit.  For this reason, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit was adversely affected by the sudden rise of energy (and in particular petroleum) prices in the 1970s and the ratio with which exports are covered by imports dropped below 40%.

Table 4


Foreign trade dataset is downloaded from Turkish Statistical Institute website, “Foreign Trade Statistics” link.

Statistical Table: “Foreign Trade by Years”

GDP dataset is downloaded from the OECD website, “Gross domestic product (GDP)” link.

Measure: “US $, current prices, current PPPs, millions”

Görsel: Nalan Yırtmaç

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