Turkey's foreign trade volume up 3.6% in Q1

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Turkey's foreign trade volume grew 3.6% year-on-year to $98.4 billion in the first quarter of 2020, according to a preliminary Trade Ministry data released Thursday.

The country's exports volume was choked off by coronavirus in January-March after seeing 4% rise in the first two months, the ministry said in a statement.

The figure dropped 3.9% on a yearly basis to $42.8 billion in the first three months of this year.

Imports climbed 10.3% to nearly $55.7 billion, amounting to a foreign trade deficit of $12.9 billion over the same period.

The data also showed that the exports-to-imports coverage ratio in the first three months of this year was at 76.9%, down from 88.2% in the same quarter of 2019.

In March, Turkey's exports narrowed 17.8% compared to a year earlier, reaching $13.4 billion.

The quarantine restrictions enacted at the borders, especially with neighboring countries Iraq and Iran, and market and demand shrinkage in EU states were the main culprits of the decline in exports in March, the statement said.

The country's imports totaled $18.8 billion last month, rising 3% on an annual basis.

Turkey posted a $5.4 billion foreign trade deficit in March, up from $1.9 last year.

The head of Turkish Exporters' Assembly, Ismail Gülle, stressed that exports to 83 countries increased last month "despite the negative outlook in global trade."

The top export market for Turkish products were Germany ($1.3 billion), the U.S. ( $880 million) and the U.K.($802 million), he noted.

Exports to the EU, Turkey's main trading partner, totaled $6.2 billion in March, gaining a 46.2% share in total exports of the country, he added.

Gülle underlined that the automotive industry maintained its chair as Turkey's leading export sector with exports worth $2.6 billion last month, followed by chemical products with $1.6 billion and ready-made garments and apparel with $1.2 billion.

The hazelnut exports showed the strongest performance with a 53.3% annual rise, Gülle said.

After first appearing in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the virus has spread to at least 180 countries and regions.

The global death toll from the virus has hit over 47,500 with more than 941,900 confirmed cases and over 195,000 recoveries, according to the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

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