This month, the newsletter dedicates a large part of its editorial to Covid-19 and explains the process of gradual and controlled normalization started since mid-May. So far, the country has stood out with a relatively low number of deaths linked to Covid-19: according to the last official report dated May 27, the country registered 4,431 deaths for 159,797 cases. As part of this normalization, some restrictions have been partially eased and some professions have resumed their activities: lifting of interurban travel restrictions in some departments, re-opening of some businesses, complete resumption of production in automobile factories. In addition, Turkey opened its borders to medical patients since May 20.
This month, our Newsletter is a special issue devoted to the economic, health and societal assessment of Turkey in the context of its fight against Covid-19 and to the new sectoral opportunities which arise from this epidemic. . With 3,081 deaths and 117,589 people infected as of April 29, Turkey is sparing no efforts in its fight against the spread of the virus despite encouraging signs (number of new cases infected at the lowest for 20 days, number of deaths down for the 7th consecutive day). Very early and from the start of the spread of the virus, Turkey suspended its flights with China on February 3, then gradually with all the countries of the world, until May 28.
This month, our Newsletter devotes a large part of its editorial to the Covid-19 virus. Indeed, although affected to a lesser extent, Turkey is not spared from the Coronavirus : as of March 25, 59 deaths and 2,433 infected people have been reported. Given the gravity of the situation, the government takes measures very early in its fight against the pandemic. On a social level, a series of restrictions and recommendations that are getting longer every day have been formulated. On the economic aspect, the government unveiled on March 19 a plan of 14.5 billion EUR intended to support the economy.
According to IMF and World Bank new estimates, Turkey should experience a return to growth in 2020 at around 3%, a scenario much more optimistic than advanced in 2019 by those two institutions which forecast growth at around 0% or 1%. The World Bank stresses that activity should rebound at a faster rate than expected as domestic demand improves. A rebound that could strengthen if international trade risks were to ease. For 2021, the World Bank forecasts growth of 4%, slightly below the forecasts of the Turkish government which anticipates 5% until 2022.
Turkey closed 2019 on a positive economic note. Indeed, the country's GDP registered a growth of +0.9% in the third quarter on a year-on-year basis, ending three consecutive quarters of contraction. As part of its "Vision 2023" plan, Turkey aims to become one of the 10 world economic power by 2023. A claim which is confirmed by the realization of major strategic projects of which 2019 has witnessed the concretization of some of them.
November was marked by a renewed interest from foreign investors in Turkey. Many European and Asian industrials from different sectors have decided to enter the Turkish market through various investment strategies: external growth, acquisition of shares or joint venture. Other companies, already present, have reaffirmed their trust by announcing their will to invest more in the near future.
On September 30, the government launched its second new economic program to respond to constantly evolving challenges and to remedy macroeconomic imbalances. Following this, the growth forecasts were updated for 2019 from 2.3% to 0.5%, and from 3.5% to 5% for 2020. The inflation forecasts were revised downwards from 15,9% to 12% for 2019 and should drop below 10% in 2020.
According to official figures released in August, the Turkish economy returned to growth in the second quarter of 2019 on a quarter basis, up 1,2% from the previous quarter. However, on an annual basis, it declined by 1,5% compared to the second quarter of 2018, a figure that still remains higher than initial estimates (-2%); this modest recovery dispels fears that the country is headed for a lasting recession.
The first economic indicators show a slight improvement in the country's situation, an improvement which should materialize fully at the end of the year. In fact, the inflation rate, which was around 25% in early 2019, fell to 15,7% in June, a better performance than expected.
The growth figures for the first quarter of 2019 have been published : at an annual rate, Turkish GDP declined by 2,6% in the first quarter but saw an increase of 1,3% compared to the last quarter of 2018. Consumption households, the main driver of the economy, and investment fell by 4,7% and 13% respectively, while public spending increased by 7,2%. Exports, boosted by a weak currency, rose by 9,5% while imports fell by 28,8% over the same period.
The long-awaited implementation of economic reforms by the business community and announced after the municipal elections on March 31st was delayed by the political agenda. Indeed, the High Electoral Commission of Turkey (YSK) has decided to cancel the result of the vote in Istanbul which saw Ekrem Imamoğlu, opposition candidate, in the lead and scheduled new elections on June 23rd to re-elect the mayor of Istanbul. This cancellation was decided following irregularities alleged by the party of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and which would have affected the outcome of the poll.
After a prosperous year in 2017 and the first three quarters of a sustained growth in 2018, the Turkish economy is expecting a slowdown this year due to international trade tensions of this past few months. However, economists estimate that Turkish activity should recover from the second half of the year. The maintaining of the measures to fight the inflation (reduction of the special consumption tax and VAT, price reduction initiated by some companies ...) should also contribute to the recovery of the general activity.
Turkey is currently facing an economic slowdown, characterized by the fall of the Turkish lira and accentuated by a significant rise in inflation. Nevertheless, the signs of stabilization are being felt. The vitality of Turkish exports in 2018, driven by a favorable exchange rate and growth in Europe, Turkey's main trading partner, coupled with the drop in imports, have positively impacted the trade deficit, down by 30%.
With an increase of 2,6% recorded in 2018, Turkey has managed to maintain a positive growth rate and once again demonstrated its resilience in the face of economic and monetary unforeseen events. Measures taken by the government to counter devaluation and the consequent high inflation have helped support some sectors such as the automobile, which was the main export item in 2018, accounting for 17% of total exports. Automobile sector has also benefited from economic growth in European countries, the final destination for 50.3% of Turkey's automobile exports.
After the municipal elections of March 31st, Turkey entered a period of four years without ballot which is scheduled to be devoted to the economic rebalancing of the country. The government has therefore released a roadmap as part of the "new economic plan" announced last September. This action plan covers several major areas such as the financial sector, budgetary discipline, tax reform as well as growth and employment.