By Gokhan Ergocun
Turkey's exports saw its second-highest export volume in the republic's history with $157.1 billion in 2017, according to Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference in capital Ankara, Zeybekci said exports surged 10.2 percent during this period.
He also said Turkey's imports rose by 17.9 percent to reach $234.2 billion in 2017.
The rate of exports meeting imports decreased by 4.7 percentage points to 67.1 in 2017 compared with 2016.
The minister said: "Our export target for 2018 is $169 billion but we want to climb over $170 billion."
In December, the country's exports also rose 10.1 percent to reach $13.6 billion, according to Turkish Exporters Assembly.
Turkey's total exports in November were $14.2 billion, according to Turkish Statistical Institute.
Incentive certificates that were drafted by the Economy Ministry jumped 81 percent, he said.
He said Turkey's exports rose 9 percent in quantity and 1.5 percent in unit-value, adding: "The unit value of our exports had increased for the first time since 2013."
He said Turkey would exceed $157.6 billion export volume, which is historical high, in a few weeks.
'Top of world economies'
The country's exports rose in double-digit numbers the last time in 2012, he added.
He said the exports of the U.S., EU and China were up by 6.2 percent, 7.4 percent and 7.5 percent, year-on-year, in 2017, respectively.
"In other words, we are at the top of world economies with an annual increase of export volume by 10.2 percent in 2017," he added.
Turkey's enlarged foreign trade, which included all merchandise and services exports and imports, was expected to reach $468 billion, he said.
Zeybekci said: "Turkey's enlarged exports were $211.6 billion and enlarged imports were $256.3 billion in 2017."
The percentage of imports covered by exports in the enlarged frame was 82.6 percent in 2017, he noted.
Stressing that Turkey's share in the global trade was 0.55 percent in 2002 while it rose to 0.97 percent in 2017, Zeybekci said: "Our goal is to raise this share to 1.5 percent level."
Automotive sector contributed 15.3 percent of the country's total exports in 2017, up from 9.2 percent in 2002, he said.
He added that Turkey's agricultural products exports also rose to $16.9 billion in the year from $3.75 billion in 2002.
"Our constant goal is to add technology-intensive, design-intensive and brand-intensive sectors to our exports," he said.
Rise in imports
Zeybekci blamed the gold and energy sector for the rise in imports, which contributed by 58 percent to the increase in Turkey's total import.
He said Turkey's largest import item, energy, surged 36.9 percent to $37.2 billion due to rise in energy price in the year.
Last year, the country's gold imports also jumped 147.2 percent to $17.8 billion, he added.
He underlined that he expected Turkey's import volume to stand at $237 billion in 2018.