Turkey recorded a sensational +18,000 % in stone exports to Saudi Arabia in 2022 compared to the previous year, and the trend is positive in other respects as well

Exports total.

The country has achieved considerable diversification and has turned to finished products

A growth of +18,195.31% (by value) has been achieved by Turkey in its natural stone exports to Saudi Arabia in 2022 compared to the previous year. In other words, this is almost an increase of 200 times.

In terms of sums, exports to Saudi Arabia increased from US$0.44 million (2021) to US$81 million (2022). The figures were compiled by the IMIB (Istanbul Mineral Exporters’ Association).

This extreme statistical jump has political processes as its cause, but in the overall view it points to the remarkable strength that Turkey’s natural stone sector has now achieved.

The particular plus in the case of Saudi Arabia stems from the end of a decade of severe political tensions between the two countries: we only mention the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in 2018. When the Turkish government took a clear stance on the matter, the royal family in Riyadh asked its citizens to stop buying goods from Turkey.

Turkey’s exports to the important customer country on the Gulf then plummeted.

In 2022, the tensions were settled, and this led to the sensational increase mentioned above. However, the US$81 million now achieved is still a long way from the previous US$139 million.

The overall picture of the years 2022 and 2021 shows how well the Turkish stone sector is now positioned: in 2021, it had achieved an overall increase in exports of +20.54% (by value) – this despite the fact that Saudi Arabia went down to practically zero.

And it was not catch-up effects after Covid-19 alone that caused the strong increase then. Associations hailed 2021 as a “golden year“ – the reason for this successs was the unprecedented diversification among buyer countries that Turkey has now achieved.

It is also slowly moving up alongside Italy in this area.

The country has achieved this in a long-standing acquisition campaign that Erdoğan government has strongly supported with money:

* we recall the extensive buyers programs at the Izmir fair – last year again a group of buyers had been flown in even from Brazil;
* conversely, the two associations, IMIB and EIB, for their part, have been tirelessly canvassing potential target countries – most recently, an EIB delegation was in the UK for the 2nd time on a canvassing tour: pretty much all the world’s major architectural firms have a representative office in London, and Britain’s stone sector cannot even begin to satisfy demand at home.

The Erdoğan government has established the stone sector as a strong source of foreign currency. In view of the current weakness of the Turkish Lira, it needs this more than urgently.

Exports finished products.

Returning to the statistics for 2022, it is particularly positive to note that, despite stagnation in total exports (by value: +0.22%), exports of finished products rose strongly (by value +18.77%).

Faithful buyers of finished products in 2022 were the countries of the EU. Australia has established itself as a stable buyer.

It is exciting to keep an eye on the increase in exports to Russia (+69.47%). Here – and in an increase of +24.18% already in 2021 – perhaps Turkey’s international policy is again reflected, namely the new role it now plays in the region around the Black and Caspian Seas.

In trade with China, there was again a sharp decline: this time it was -31.91%, after +13.95% in 2021 and -22.24% in 2020. China buys only blocks.

Better prospects for Turkish exporters are promised by the significant increase in deliveries to India, whose economy is currently developing splendidly and which also buys marble end products abroad.

IMIB (Istanbul Mineral Exporters’ Association)

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(17.04.2023, USA: 04.17.2023)