Economies have ups and downs, just like human life. Sometimes a breakthrough comes and makes everyone in the country happy. Sometimes economies recess and depress everyone. From the weakest to the strongest one, all the nations have undoubtedly gone through such tests. However, some crises put all the floating boats in danger. Some of them are lost in the depths of the sea; some are stranded, and some manage to find the shore through all kinds of hardship. It is just like the great depression of 1929. There hadn’t been such a crisis that impacted the global economy in such a way. Not until the outbreak of COVID-19.
Things weren’t that bad, actually. The regression that started in April 2018 was still around in 2019, but it had eased down. The figures for 2019 had indicated a decrease of 2.2% compared to that of 2018, and the Turkish Natural Stone Industry had made $1,864,3 billion in total. And the decrease in the amount of products sold had been recorded as 4.27%. However, the natural stone sector’s expectation was that the Chinese market would’ve heated up, and the total export would’ve surpassed the barrier of $2 billion by 2020.
2020 started well for the natural stone industry, not disappointing the expectations. The export figures for the first month indicated an increase in both the block market and the processed product market, compared to 2019. However, from February onwards, COVID-19’s worsening impact, which broke out in Wuhan, was literally a death sentence for the sector whose main market was China. IMIB’s statistics revealed the crisis’ severeness. The decrease in export in the first 19 days of February was 52! The block market was out. The processed product market was still on its feet since the crisis hadn’t hit the United States, Europe, and the Gulf yet.
By the end of April, the situation was changing. Europe and the United States had become the new center of the pandemic, while China was doing a little better thanks to the precautions taken. This shifting situation affected the natural stone industry. With the factories operating again in China, the block market was doing better and showed some improvements. However, the processed product market was in decline this time. According to the figures for June, the block market had suffered an income loss of 35.2% compared to 2019, and the loss in the processed product market was recorded as 5.68%. The sector had suffered a total loss of 15.7%.
After this summary of what happened in the sector, let’s examine the latest figures. In other words, the sector’s balance sheet for the last seven months. Between January-July 2020, Turkey earned $906,404,000 in exchange for a natural stone export of 3.277.278 tons. When we compare it to the same period of 2019, we observe a decrease of 18.6% in the amount of product exported, and 13.7% in income. Now let’s get further in the details.
The regression in China, which is both the starting point of the pandemic and Turkey’s most important client, continues. Having ended 2018 decreasing by 18%, and 2019 by 10%, China suffered an income loss of 30.6% in the first seven months of 2020. Between January-July 2020, Turkey exported a total of 1.343.792 tons of natural stone to China and earned $273,053,000. Of course, this situation in China had an obvious effect on block sales. The block market, too, regressed by 33.6% in the first seven months of 2020. Turkey’s amount of income in exchange for export of 1.665.000 tons of natural stone was recorded as $320,775,000.
However, the crisis in the block market is unfortunately not limited to China. Among Turkey’s Top 10 block buyers, only Portugal’s import increased, and the total amount of income we made in that market is $946,000. Also in India, the most important client in Turkey’s block market after China, we suffered a severe decrease. Our income in India decreased by 64% compared to the same period of 2019, and our income fell to $17,670,000. Having ranked the 4th among Turkey’s Top 10 clients in 2019, India now has the 10th place. We suffered decreases also in our other block buyers such as Egypt(4.2%), Italy(38.4%), Taiwan(32.1%).
Now let’s hit the processed product market. Even though the United States was one of the countries receiving the worst blows from the pandemic, the Turkish Natural Stone Industry did quite well there in the first seven months of 2020. In exchange for a natural stone export of 398.606.000 tons, Turkey earned $165,709,000. The amount of products sold in the American market increased by 6.3%, and our total income increased by 2%. We should underline an important detail here. The fact that our gain from the processed-travertine sale increased by 17.3% despite the 5.8% loss in the amount of processed-marble we sold to the world giant kept things under control. In other words, what sustained our presence in the American market in the first seven months of 2020 was the travertine sale.
The Gulf was the point attracting the most attention during the pandemic. The most significant increase was in Saudi Arabia. Our income from the Saudi market increased by 23.3% compared to the first seven months of 2019, reaching $85,740,000. The amount of product sold increased by 31.1% and was recorded as 243.277.000 tons. Turkey’s income from Israel increased by 8% as well. In addition, our income in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan from the Turkic Republics increased by 599.9% and 210.5%, relatively, and this was considered as a positive gain during these difficult times.