Turkey had set an export target of 265 billion dollars for 2023. The earthquakes, the effects of a very tense general election and now the risk of exports to 8 countries under fire from Israel’s Gaza operation have put the annual target under heavy pressure. In this war, exports to Israel, Palestine, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Yemen could face a sharp decline. If Iraq and Saudi Arabia are also included, Turkey’s exports could suffer a much heavier blow.
In the first 9 months of the year, there was a double-digit decline in our exports to 8 countries in the line of fire compared to the same period of the previous year. In 2022, we exported approximately USD 19 billion to these 8 countries. If the Israel-Hamas war, which started on October 7, continues for the rest of the year, the most optimistic estimate is a loss of approximately USD 10 billion in our exports to the region. However, in the Russia-Ukraine war, Turkey made efforts to ensure peace on the one hand, but did not lose exports to both countries at war, on the contrary, it increased rapidly. As in 2022, our exports to Russia increased by 47 percent and to Ukraine by 54 percent in the first nine months.
In the first 9-month of this year, our exports to Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen declined at double-digit rates before the start of the conflict, and this trend is likely to worsen in the rest of the year. In 2022, Turkey exported USD 6.9 billion to Israel annually. 9-month exports fell by 20 percent to USD 4 billion in the same period last year. It is rumored that some important buyers in Israel have taken action not to supply products from Turkey, and that an ‘unofficial boycott’ similar to that of Saudi Arabia 3 years ago may be effective. In this case, exports to Israel may not even reach USD 4.5 billion this year and a loss of USD 2 billion dollars may be experienced. In Turkey, lists of ‘Israeli goods or Jewish companies’ are also circulating on social media. Still, the lack of an official ‘boycott effort’ from both sides so far is at least promising for the future. Turkey had a trade surplus of USD 4.6 billion with Israel last year.
From now on, we can only provide aid to Gaza, which Israel destroyed in violation of all the rules of war, and to the West Bank, Palestine, which it keeps under heavy pressure. Exports to Palestine amounted to USD 120 million last year and USD 90 million in 9 months of this year.
In 2022, we exported USD 2.4 billion to Lebanon, which is one of the countries that could be involved in the war at any time. In 9 months of this year, our exports fell to USD 1 billion due to the collapse of Lebanon’s economy, which is under severe crisis even without war. The Lebanese people are worried that if the country is somehow drawn into the war, the economic crisis that has been going on for nearly 2 years will deepen.
Syria, struggling to survive under a war economy for 10 years, faces the risk of a new conflict and occupation. Israel has recently struck Syrian airfields several times. Jordan is as concerned as Syria. Last year, Turkey exported USD 1.5 billion worth of goods to Syria and USD 872 million to Jordan.
As a result, we exported a total of USD 18,96 billion to 8 countries in conflict and close to conflict in 2022. It seems that it will not be a surprise that this figure will be halved this year due to both the weight of general economic conditions and the war.