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Turkey: falling back to the 2-billion-US-$-mark after the second weak export year in a row

The stone block market offered little encouragement in 2015. Photo of the Izmir Trade Fair 2015. Photo: Izfas

Turnover of value-added products to the USA stable / Country going to great lengths in seeking new markets

For the second year in a row Turkey has experienced a recession in exports of natural stone even falling to below the magical 2 billion-US-$-mark: in 2014, exports by value had reached 2.128 billion US-$ (equaling 7.371 million t), a mere 1.907 billion US-$ (or 6.5219 million t) could be chalked up in 2015.
Expressed in percentage this meant -10% negative growth by value and -12% by tonnage as compared to the 12-month period one year prior (2014: -4.2% by value, -12.6% by tonnage).

The development stands in sharp contrasts to the forecast. Was it not just 2013 when the magical 2 billion barrier was broken and natural stone valued at 2.225 billion US-$ (8.441 billion t) changed hands for export abroad?

What with the current development, Turkey has fallen back to 2012-levels (1.903 billion US-$, 7.908 million t).

The reasons are obvious: stagnation of the Chinese economy, crisis in Russia, the weak European countries and the war in Syria together with the general instability in Northern Africa.

But a ray of light in exports of raw blocks laces the horizon particularly as far as India is concerned. Its imports from Turkey were up +13% in tonnage to 62.914 million t (2014: 55.634 billion t).

Also interesting: a glance at Central and South America. Whereas exports as a whole were down particularly because of the weak Brazilian economy -27.59 % some countries experienced considerable growth: Argentina +38.105, Guatemala +51,09% or Uruguay +82,34%. Smaller countries such as Belize or Surinam even reached growth rates of +100% and +300% respectively as did Nicaragua. But the base figures in these countries were very low.

In almost all countries of the European Union exports were down by well over -10%. Only exceptions: Poland (+22,62), Bulgaria (+13,32%) and Rumania (+5,43%) purchased more marble and travertine from Turkey in 2015 than in the year prior.

The Middle East saw restrained growth (Saudi-Arabia: +2.65%) but balanced by drastic losses in Iraq (-30%), Palestine or Lebanon.

Countries in the Southern African continent were responsible for a healthy over-all growth rate of +24%.

Note that the Turkish stone branch with the aid of government has been undertaking a number of measures to strengthen the market.

Endeavors included the Singapore Stone Show and the Morocco Maroc Stone. The Turkish city of Bursa welcomed guests at its indoor Trade Fair for raw blocks for the first time.

Turkey’s Ministry of Economic Development in Ankara set up the UR-GE-Program some time ago. Its aim is to further international competitiveness in small and medium-sized companies. The companies are encouraged to increase exports.

The branch also pursues the goal of increasing value-added turnover, i.e. to implement design and form and bring stone to the market as a finished product.

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(21.04.2016, USA: 04.21.2016)