Turkish exporters lose nearly $140M in April as Ukraine war hits trade

Turkey’s exports to Russia and Ukraine fell by nearly $140 million in April, as Moscow’s invasion of its southern neighbor continues to disrupt shipments.

Sales to Turkey’s two Black Sea neighbors fell to around $500 million last month, down from $638 million a year ago, according to data compiled from the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM).

Although exports were up from $293.1 million in March, they came in below $655.5 million in February. The 55.3% month-over-month fall in March demonstrated the biggest impact yet of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

January-April shipments to Russia dropped 5.5% year-over-year to $1.4 billion, while sales to Ukraine saw a much steeper fall, declining $21.7% to $542.1 million, the data showed.

In April alone, Turkey’s exports to Ukraine plunged 49.3% to $105.2 million, down from $207.5 million a year ago.

It followed a nearly 80% and 81% fall on an annual and monthly basis in March to just $41.7 million.

Sales to Russia saw a more limited fall, dropping 8.2% year-over-year to $395 million. Exports in March were down nearly 40% to $252.4 million, from $419.8 million a year ago.

Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good relations with both.

While it has criticized Russia’s offensive, Ankara is trying to balance its close ties and has positioned itself as a neutral party attempting to mediate between the warring sides.

Turkey’s trade with both Russia and Ukraine reached a record high in 2021. The volume with Russia reached $34.7 billion, while the turnover with Ukraine jumped to $7.4 billion.

Russia ranked 10th among its biggest export markets last year and came in second when it comes to imports. Ukraine stood 20th in exports and 13th in imports.

Big loss for steel, automotive, cement

Nevertheless, Turkey managed to register the highest monthly exports ever in April, as sales surged 24.6% year-over-year last month to $23.4 billion, the TIM data showed.

It followed monthly records in the first three months of the year, a period marked by a widening trade deficit fueled by increasing energy costs.

The war in Ukraine has sent global commodity prices soaring, threatening to impact Turkey’s new economic program that aims to record a current account surplus.

The trade deficit jumped 98% year-over-year in April to $6.1 billion, the data showed, for a total of $32.5 billion in the first four months of 2022.

Energy imports soared 134.1% year-over-year to $7.7 billion, slightly down from $8.4 billion in March, taking a total to $32.7 billion from January through April equal to an annual rise of 173.1%.

Exports of cement, jewelry, automotive and steel sectors to Russia and Ukraine suffered the biggest losses, according to the data.

Sales of cement-glass-ceramics-soil products to Ukraine plunged 92.4% year-over-year to just $563,000 in April; exports of olives and olive oil also slid by 88.2% to around $11,900.

Jewelry exports were down 88.3% year-over-year to $80,000, automotive sector, which exported $20.1 million to Ukraine in April last year, suffered a 75.2% loss, with sales dropping to just $5 million.

Steel sales fell to $7.5 million, a 70.4% decline compared to a year ago.

As for Russia, the steel industry saw its exports fall 63.7% year-over-year to $7 million, indicating a $12.4 million loss compared to a year ago.


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