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    Why gold imports are increasing?

    Fatih Özatay, PhD10 August 2013 - Okunma Sayısı: 846

    The current environment is evidently marked by uncertainties, which is the nemesis of the confidence in the economy.

    Although a week has passed after its release, I would like to comment on the foreign trade statistics for June benefiting from the bayram break.

    The first thing that grabs my attention is the remarkable increase in gold imports in the first half of the year. Here are some figures: average monthly gold imports in 2012 worth $637 million. The average for the first six months of 2012 was quite close, at $616 million. In the same period in 2012, however, average monthly gold imports almost tripled, reaching $1.6 billion.

    If this rise is even partially related to the domestic economic policy, and more importantly monetary policy, we have to put on our thinking caps. Here are the guiding questions: do the current policies stimulate gold imports? Where does the foreign exchange spent on gold head at the end of the day? If the imported gold is to be exported in a short timeframe as was the case in 2011 and 2012, these questions are irrelevant. So are they if imports increased because annual import requirement was backdated due to the fall in gold prices. In both of the cases, the increase in gold imports become insignificant in terms of policy and requires a more throughout analysis. For the time being I will settle with this much.

    The second observation concerning foreign trade data is the favorable message in it about the growth performance in the first half of the year:

    Last year, non-gold and non-energy imports decreased year-on-year and the rate of decrease was quite significant, at 6.5 percent. This year, on the other hand, imports increased on average by 6.1 percent in the first half of the year. Non-gold exports alike increased year-on-year by 5.5 percent in the first half of 2013. This is substantially below the rate achieved in the 2010-11 period. But given the current state of the European economy in particular, no one expected such a large export growth rate for 2013. What we were wondering was if export growth would improve compared to the previous year or not, even at a small degree. And it did, exceeding the 4.3 percent export growth rate in 2012. True, exports decreased year-on-year in June alone, but we should not attach much meaning to the figure for a single month. According to the figures released by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly, non-gold exports have grown substantially year-on-year also in July.

    So, here is the conclusion from the growth perspective: figures for the first seven months of 2013 imply an improvement in exports, though at a small degree. The limited rise in exports and the hike in imports indicate that “not-so-bad” growth performance in the first quarter of 2013 pertained in the second quarter.

    This is not even satisfactory, and it comes with a “but”: what matters is what is going to happen in the second half of the year. I have mentioned earlier that the ongoing tension in the international financial markets was bad news for second half’s growth performance. The current environment is evidently marked by uncertainties, which is the nemesis of the confidence in the economy. This climate is particularly not conducive concerning the private sector investments that have been in constant decline for a considerably long time.

    This commentary was published in Radikal daily on 10.08.2013