The automotive industry maintained its position as the largest export group from Türkiye in the first half of the year, according to the industry data compiled by Anadolu Agency (AA) on Saturday.

The sector closed the first half of the year with $17.7 billion in foreign sales, according to data compiled from the Uludağ Automotive Industry Exporters’ Association (OIB) and the Türkiye Exporters Assembly (TIM). This marked a 2.3% increase compared with the same period of 2023.

During this period, local automakers predominantly exported their products to European countries, the data showed.

In the January-June period, the sector sent products to approximately 200 countries, free zones and autonomous regions, with nine out of the top 10 countries being European countries.

The European market overall stands as one of the top markets for Turkish goods with Türkiye being the fifth largest trade partner for the EU in 2023.

Germany leads list

Germany led the list with automotive exports amounting to $2.44 billion, followed by France with $2.07 billion. The United Kingdom ranked third with $1.94 billion, followed by Italy with $1.66 billion and Spain with $1.23 billion.

The shipments to these five countries accounted for nearly 53% of the sector’s total exports.

Exports to the remaining countries in the top 10 amounted to $733.34 million in shipments to Poland, $683.54 million to Slovenia, $622.4 million to Belgium, $564.08 million to the U.S., and lastly, $514.07 million to Romania.

Meanwhile, the data also showed that exports to several other countries have witnessed a notable increase in the January-June period.

Exports to Saudi Arabia leaped by 238%, rising from $41.83 million to $141.40 million. Similarly, exports to Australia saw a 114.7% increase, climbing from $60.96 million to $130.91 million compared to the same period last year.

Monthly data

The data from the Uludağ Automotive Industry Exporters’ Association meanwhile also revealed that despite the decline in the monthly export volume, observed in June, the sector preserved its top position in total shipments, accounting for 14.1% of the foreign sales.

The exports dropped 12% year-over-year to $2.6 billion in June, according to the data. In June, the U.K. spearheaded the list of the countries that imported the most from the Turkish automotive sector with $322 million, followed by Germany with $319 million and France with $315 million.

Automotive is one of the key industries in Türkiye, employing tens of thousands of people, and being often dubbed as the “locomotive of Turkish exports.”

“While exports decreased in all commodity groups last month due to the long holiday, we recorded an increase of 20% to the United Kingdom, 7% to Spain, 23% to Romania and 3% to the United States. In the first six months of the year, our exports increased by 2.3% to $17.7 billion,” said Baran Çelik, chairperson of the Uludağ Automotive Industry Exporters Association.

Türkiye’s exports totaled $18.5 billion in June, down 10.6% on a yearly basis, the Trade Ministry announced earlier this week.

During the last 12-month period, the country’s exports were at $257.8 billion, up 2.5%, while imports dropped 6.7% to $346 billion, resulting in a narrowing trade deficit.

Chinese interest

Talks revolving around the Turkish automotive industry were particularly heightened in the past couple of days on the back of a reported mega-investment of Chinese automaker BYD in a facility in western Manisa province, with a potential official announcement due Monday, according to a Bloomberg report.

At the same time, Reuters also reported on Friday that Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) was in talks with Turkish electric vehicle manufacturer Togg over a possible joint production venture, citing a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) official.

Production and start of deliveries of the country’s first EV maker Togg has significantly boosted appeal for electric cars in Türkiye, while the company is also gearing up to commence the sales in European market, starting from Germany.

The local media reports have also indicated other Chinese carmakers were reportedly showing interest in taking advantage of the latest regulation that allows an exemption for Chinese manufacturers with investment incentive certificates from an additional 40% tax.

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