Turkey imported 302.3 tons of gold in 2013, raising the amount by 150 percent on a yearly basis. AP photo
Turkey’s gold imports jumped to their highest annual level on record in 2013 due to a considerable drop in market prices as well as the country’s ongoing gold-for-gas trade with Iran.
Turkey imported 302.3 tons of gold through the 12 months of the year, data from Borsa Istanbul showed, recording a 150 percent rise from the previous year’s level of 120.78 tons.
The country’s December 2013 imports came in at 31.65 tons, surging by 64 percent compared to the previous month. In the same month of 2012, Turkey imported 3.6 tons of gold.
The rise stemmed chiefly from this year’s sharp drop in gold prices, which fell 23 percent through 2013 after 12 straight years of gains.
In order to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran, Turkey has been paying for the natural gas it buys from the country by selling gold to it in return for Turkish Liras. However, since there are not billions of dollars’ worth of gold bullion in Turkey, it is dependent on other countries to procure enough of the metal.
This money transference scheme is also at the focus of corruption allegations that are hitting the Turkish government. Iranian-born Azeri businessman Reza Zarrab is alleged to have conducted the trade while two former ministers, Zafer Çağlayan and Muammer Güler, are accused of aiding him in return for bribes.