The impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on the natural stone and mining industry are also being monitored closely, as Turkey exports natural stones to China worth approximately $700 million annually. Disruption of loading and unloading at ports in China and the halt of construction projects also reflected on marble and travertine exports from Turkey. China is Turkey’s biggest buyer of those two products.
The Xiamen Natural Stone Fair in China, where Turkish exporters have been attributed great importance, has already been postponed while it does not seem possible for Chinese buyers to come to the Marble Natural Stone Fair which will be held on April 1-4 in western Turkey’s Izmir province.
Aegean Mine Exporters Union Chairman Mevlut Kaya said the mining sector is the largest sector in Turkey that was negatively impacted by the virus outbreak, noting that they started sending medical masks to China instead of natural stones.
Exports from the Aegean region, which sent the most stones to China, decreased in February by 54.5%, he noted. “Instead we sent 20,000 to 30,000 masks to China after receiving demands via their social media application WeChat,” he said.
One of the indirect effects of the coronavirus on Turkey’s economy is freight prices.
Failure to load and unload at Chinese ports caused problems in container traffic across the world, such as difficulties in finding empty containers for exports, said Izmir Taner İzmirlioğlu, a board member of International Transport and Logistics Service Providers Association (UTİKAD) and the Chamber of Shipping.
“Ship owners started to increase freight as they had to bring empty containers. One of the well-known major ship-owner companies announced that they will increase the price for some $100 to $200 depending on the container capacity. This will increase our export cost by 5 to 25% depending on destination,” he said.
Steel exports on rise
The export figures in Turkey’s steel industry, are also one of the positively affected, as the country’s steel exports to Asian and African markets has already been increasing especially within the last 15 days, after several Chinese factories halted production.
While the increase in steel product sales to African countries reached 15%, new orders are coming from Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Bangladesh, which were markets that Turkish exporters had difficulties in entering before.
Aegean Iron and Steel Exporters’ Association Chairman Yalçın Ertan stated that if this trend continues, they expect at least 1 million tons in additional exports, when compared with figures recorded in 2019