A firm Turkish lira is feared to inflate import bill in 2005

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s imports may surge well above the official target this year if the lira continues firm, a trade official said yesterday. «If the lira remains strong, it is estimated that imports will reach $115 billion in 2005, exceeding a program target of $104 billion,» Ahmet Yakici, imports general manager at the foreign trade directorate, told the MUSIAD business group. In 2004, imports amounted to $97.54 billion. The government has set an exports target of $71 billion for this year, compared with exports of $63.12 billion last year, producing an overall trade deficit of $34.42 billion. Yakici’s comments reinforced expectations of a buoyant import performance this year, fueling a large trade deficit. The big trade gap is worsening the current account deficit, which has caused some concern among economists.