Exports jump in August, but still lag way behind imports Exports rose 24 percent in August compared to the same month in 2004, while imports increased 12.9 percent, the National Statistics Service (NSS) announced yesterday. The total value of the month’s imports was 3.108 billion euros and that of exports 992.8 million, the NSS said. Turkey to load first batch of Caspian oil in December Turkey aims to release the first crude oil coming from the Caspian Sea through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in December, a senior Energy Ministry official told Reuters yesterday. The first crude was pumped into the 1,770-kilometer (1,106-mile) pipeline at Baku in May, but the size of the pipe means the oil only crossed into Georgia in August. But technical problems have still delayed the first batch, which was planned for October 27. «There have been some delays, but we are working to have the first loading at Ceyhan at a big ceremony in December,» said the official, who declined to be named. A total of 10 million barrels of crude oil is required to fill the pipe, which will supply 1 million barrels per day to European markets. The pipeline is owned by a consortium led British oil major BP Plc and includes Azeri state oil firm SOCAR, US oil firm Unocal, Norway’s Statoil, Italy’s ENI, France’s Total, Japan’s Itochu and INPEX, ConocoPhillips and Amerada Hess. The Turkish Energy Ministry official said talks continued with the consortium to iron out the problems. «There won’t be any big delays,» he said. «There are many things that need to be done, from telecommunications to environmental work. Also, when the oil arrives, testing will start, and that will also take time.» (Reuters) Budget agreement Bulgaria’s ruling coalition has agreed to stick to one of Europe’s tightest fiscal policies with a balanced budget in 2006 and expects already booming economic growth to accelerate, officials said yesterday. The EU candidate’s Socialist-led government said it would deliver a 2006 budget draft targeting expenditure of up to 40 percent of expected gross domestic product (GDP) to Parliament by the end of the month. «The budget will focus on three priorities: social responsibility for those with low incomes, European integration in terms of building administrative capacity and co-financing development projects and repairing damage from floods this summer,» Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev told a news conference. (Reuters) Further slowdown Car sales continued their decline in September, dropping by 6.7 percent from August and 6.1 percent from September last year, according to data from the Association of Motor Vehicle Importers-Representatives (SEAA). The month’s sales amounted to 19,418 units, while cars sold since the start of the year totaled 220,064. Among car manufacturers, Hyundai leads sales in the first nine months of the year with 21,488 units and a 9.8 percent market share, followed by Toyota with 8.1 percent and Opel with 8 percent.