UPDATES WITH QUOTES FROM TUKRISH DEPUTY PM, FINANCE MINISTER, ANALYSTS
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's Gross Domestic Product growth soared at a rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015, the Turkish Statistical Institute reported Friday.
The figure exceeded consensus analyst estimates of 4.4 percent.
Gross Domestic Product in the fourth quarter of 2015 rose to 31.7 billion Turkish liras ($11 billion), up 4.8 percent compared with 30.1 billion liras ($10.31 billion) in the first quarter of 2015, TurkStat said.
Performance in the first quarter pushed the overall annual GDP growth to 4.8 percent, with cumulative GDP reaching 499.3 billion Turkish liras ($172 billion) in current prices, it added.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who is in charge of the economy, said the Turkish economy was one of the fastest-growing economy among countries in the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which comprises of the world’s 34 economies.
"This success was achieved despite geopolitical tensions in our region, problems in our trade partners and weak trend in the global economy," Simsek said in a statement.
KapitalFx Analyst Enver Erkan said the growth estimates by TurkStat were already high, thanks to high industrial production growth in the first three months of the year.
"When we look at the details of growth, it is observed that GDP is mainly driven by consumption spending and government expenditures," Erkan said.
"According to leading indicators for the second quarter, especially for April’s industrial production data, a slowdown is seen in the industry, In this respect, consumption spending and net exports will be decisive for 2016’s GDP growth outlook," he added.
Finance Analyst Haluk Burumcekci said the highest contribution to growth came from domestic and government consumption expenditures.
"The contribution of private investment fell to the negative territory again, and external demand became the main issue limiting growth. Early signs suggest second quarter growth performance would be weaker than the first quarter growth. Risks on our growth forecast of 3.2 percent for 2016 are balanced," Burumcekci said.
Turkish Finance Minister Naci Agbal said the growth performance had been achieved in spite of the volatility in global financial markets, increased geopolitical tensions in the region and problems in foreign trade.
"During the period ahead, we will also implement necessary arrangements in nature of reforms to improve growth performance of the economy and especially to support investments," Agbal said.
Domestic demand contributed 6.4 percentage points to growth and net foreign demand made a negative 1.5 point contribution, Simsek added, pledging structural reforms to achieve strong, inclusive and sustainable growth.
According to the forecast of the international ratings agency Fitch on May 26, the Turkish economy will remain on a growth path of over 3 percent, both this and the next year.
The agency predicted that the Turkish economy would expand at a rate of 3.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year.
Fitch said a recent 30 percent increase in the minimum wage and large numbers of refugees fleeing Syria are expected to boost domestic consumption, one of main drivers of GDP growth.
In January, the government lifted the monthly net minimum wage to 1,300 lira (around $450) from 1,000 Turkish liras (around $345) for the roughly five million minimum-wage earners in the country.
The growth data came after Turkey's central bank on May 24 cut the upper end of its interest rate corridor.
The central bank had cut a key interest rate in March. On May 24, the bank cut the overnight lending rate to 9.5 percent from 10 percent, while keeping its benchmark one-week repo rate steady at 7.5 percent and its overnight borrowing rate at 7.25 percent.
Government officials have repeatedly criticized the Turkish Central Bank's relatively tight monetary policy, claiming it was limiting growth.
The Turkish government aims to reach 4.5 percent of GDP growth and reduce consumer price inflation to 7.6 percent in 2016, according to the government's national economic plan for development.
Economists forecast that the bank will cut a key interest rate for a fourth consecutive time during its June meeting.
Separately, Turkish Central Bank said Friday that the country's current account deficit stood at $2.95 billion for April, a fall of near $1 billion year-on-year, bringing the 12-month rolling deficit to around $28.6 billion.
Turkey is heavily dependent on energy imports, which was $6.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016, down from $10.9 billion in 2015, according to experts.