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Exports rise 5.6 pct in January, trade group says

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Trade with TurkeyTurkish exports rose 5.6 percent year-on-year for January, totaling $11.25 billion that month, the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) reported on Friday.

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan noted in a written statement on Friday that the figure is a record high for exports in the month of January, stating, "With this start, 2013 is going to be a record-breaking year for exports." In January of 2012, exports totaled $10.5 billion.

Çağlayan said in the announcement that Turkish exports have increased four-fold in the last decade, adding that this growth has put Turkey in the league of just 27 countries worldwide whose exports total more than $100 billion a year. "Now, we're aiming to triple our exports over the next 11 years to around $500 billion," Çağlayan said. The goal is meant to coincide with the country's centennial in 2023.

The minister's positive outlook comes after Turkey posted record export numbers for 2012, with a Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) study released on Friday setting the country's export figures at $152.6 billion.

According to TİM's January report, Turkey's automotive industry was the largest overseas seller, exporting goods worth $1.49 billion. The textile and ready-to-wear clothing sector took second place with $1.4 billion, while chemicals accounted for $1.3 billion in exports, the group reported. The fastest-growing export sector was olives and olive oils, which saw two-fold growth in exports over January 2012. The export of hazelnuts followed with a 49 percent increase over last year, while the mining sector increased its exports by 46 percent year-on-year. The province in which exports grew most over the year was Gaziantep, with a 29 percent increase in overseas sales.

The TİM report meanwhile did not mention Turkey's growing gold exports, largely thanks to trade with Iran involving large quantities of Turkish gold in exchange for Iranian gas. Turkey traded $13.2 billion in gold in the first 11 months of 2012 versus $1.2 billion for the whole of 2011, according to TurkStat figures.

TİM chief Mehmet Büyükekşi told reporters that 2013 is likely to be a growth year for exports, predicting that financial troubles in the US, Europe and other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations will start to resolve this year. That would give new life to Turkey's traditional export markets as exporters also focus on the developing world of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Büyükekşi said. "This year, Turkey is expected to break its [exports] records to both developed and developing countries," he stated.

The country to increase its imports from Turkey the most in January was Iraq, for which Turkish imports grew 19 percent from $752 million in 2012 to around $900 million year-on-year.

TİM expects exports to rise from $152 billion in 2012 to $160 billion in 2013. This figure would fall short of the growth needed to reach Çağlayan's vision of $500 billion in exports by 2023, though financial instability in Europe and the fickle nature of the gold-for-gas trade suggest that TİM's forecast may be more realistic.

Original article from Today's Zaman