Turkey’s natural stone exports in 2023: -7.63 % by value compared to the previous year

Turkey's natural stone exports in 2023. Source: IMIB

Declines in shipments to Europe are catastrophic and perhaps herald a new lack of interest in foreign materials among consumers there

Exports in the Turkish natural stone sector did not fare well in 2023 compared to the previous year: -7.63% by value and -12.12% by tonnage. Given the difficult global conditions, this was perhaps not so bad compared to the other major players in the global stone trade. However, it did not just hurt Turkish companies’ wallets, because: Exports fell below the total of US$ 2 billion again as a result.

It was only in 2021 that this magical mark was surpassed again, and in 2022 it even came close to USD 2.1 billion. Now it has fallen again to USD 1.936 billion.

As a reminder, the high point to date was USD 2.225 billion in 2013.

Let us first take a look at the major target countries for Turkish stone exporters:
* There was a sharp decline in the largest buyer of processed products, the USA (-15.37% by value);
* business with China, to which Turkey, like all other suppliers, only sells blocks, recovered after several years of significant declines and returned to +3.21% by value. This is pleasing on the one hand, but also means that the added value from Turkey’s resources is being generated elsewhere;
* Exports to India, which have been rising for years (most recently: +17.23%), also point in this direction.

We cannot reproduce the table with all destination countries here. It is remarkable because the countries with a negative percentage of often -20% and more seem to predominate.

So how can it be that total exports “only“ fell by -7.63?

On the one hand, the answer lies in the fact that Turkey achieved growth again in two of the target countries with large sums, China and India.

On the other hand, the complete table also shows that the country has achieved considerable diversification: Turkish companies supply their natural stone to almost 200 countries. Indeed, these are sometimes only minimal sums and in some countries, nothing was sold at all in 2023. But, as the saying goes, every little helps.

All in all, developments in the Gulf states were not so bad. Deliveries to Saudi Arabia rose again by +40.74% and are gradually approaching the totals before the political crisis between the two countries.

There was also an increase of 7.55% with Kuwait, but -23.12% with the UAE and -42.30% with Qatar.

Turkey appears to have tapped into an interesting market in Latin America. Deliveries to Brazil, itself a big player in natural stone exports, increased by 27.83% (to US-$ 7.206 million). Deliveries to Mexico increased by +35.64 % (to 5.877 million US-$). On the other hand, exports to Argentina fell by 12.51% (to US-$ 7.976 million).

However, the figures for exports to Europe, traditionally a safe market for Turkey, were catastrophic:
* France: -12.45% (from US-$ 99.447 million to US$ 84.444 million);
* Germany: -51.72% (from US-$ 65.308 million to US$ 31.533 million);
* Italy: -28.84% (from US-$ 27.684 million to US-$ 42.479 million);
* Austria: -49.73% (from US-$ 16.304 million to US-$ 8.197 million);
* The figures for Belgium, England and Switzerland are similar;
* Spain is the exception (+9.92%); it has achieved a positive development of its economy in 2023.

Perhaps these figures reveal an upcoming problem that all suppliers to the European Union will have to deal with in the future: in view of the climate crisis, consumers are increasingly turning to domestic materials with a low carbon footprint.

This trend has not been as prominent in the USA. So far.

IMIB (Istanbul Mineral Exporters’ Association)

Messe Marble, Izmir, 17. – 20. April 2024

Poster: Marble fair, Izmir.

See also:

(18.03.2024, USA: 03.18.2024)