Turkey’s foreign trade deficit widened 44% in April from a year earlier as exports slumped due to what the government said was adverse calendar impact from a religious holiday. 

The shortfall was $8.85 billion, up from a gap of $6.15 billion in 2022, according to preliminary data published by Trade Ministry on Tuesday. Exports fell 17% to $19.3 billion during the same period, while imports dropped 4.5% to $28.2 billion. 

The ministry said the drop in shipments abroad was hit by the Eid holiday that marked the end of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims. Two massive earthquakes that struck Turkey in February also continue to weigh on exports, it said.

The deterioration in Turkey’s foreign trade imbalance brings the gap during the first four months of the year to $43.5 billion. Exporters say they are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with their rivals due to the Turkish lira’s steady exchange rate against the US dollar, despite rampant inflation in the country. LC Waikiki, one of Turkey’s largest clothing retail chains, said the lira should weaken to as low as 25 per dollar from just under 19.5 currently, according to Dunya newspaper.

Jak Eskinazi, head of the Aegean Exporters’ Associations, said last month that businesses have “no chance” of competing against global rivals at the current foreign-exchange rates. 

Key Insights

  • January-April exports were $80.9 billion, down 3% from the same period a year earlier; Imports were $124.4 billion, up 7.2% during the same period
  • Top exporter to Turkey last month was Russia with $4.18 billion worth of shipments; Top importer was Germany with sales at $1.59 billion
  • Gold imports in April stood at $1.3 billion, 174% higher than year earlier