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Turkey’s exports to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Russia shoot up in 2023: Erdogan

The Turkish president also said the country’s total export revenues reached an all-time high.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

ANKARA — Turkey’s exports with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia saw the largest increase in 2023, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, adding that the country’s total export revenues broke a record by reaching $255.8 billion.

“The top three countries that stood out in terms of increase in exports on a value basis were the United Arab Emirates with 63.4%, the Russian Federation with 16.9% and Saudi Arabia with an increase of 150.4%,” Erdogan said while speaking in Ankara for the release of foreign trade data of 2023. 

“We have continued our uninterrupted growth trend for the last 13 quarters. Thus, we became the second fastest growing country among the G20 countries,” Erdogan said. 

The growth in the country’s export revenues over the past years came partly at the expense of the country's breakneck annual inflation, which stood at around 60% in November. 

Before a major U-turn in the country’s economic policy after the 2023 elections, Turkey’s central bank had kept interest rates as low as 8.5% under Erdogan's influence — he defended high-interest rates causing high inflation — prompting a dramatic devaluation in the Turkish lira. 

The country’s new economy management team — led by Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek and Central Bank Governor Gaye Erkan, who were tapped after last year's general elections — has since returned to conventional economic policies. The central bank last month lifted its interest rates to 42.5%.

Following his reelection, Erdogan traveled to Gulf countries Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar on his first regional tour, which was largely aimed at bringing foreign funds to his country amid an acute foreign currency crunch and cementing the thaw in Ankara’s ties with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

The trip also enforced the shift in bilateral relations between Ankara and the Gulf countries, ending years of tension over the 2016 failed coup in Turkey and the Jamal Khashoggi killing. 

For Russia, Turkey’s exports with its Black Sea neighbor have been growing despite tight scrutiny and sanctions by Western capitals that have been pressing Ankara to tighten its grip on Turkey.