The volume of Turkey's gold imports has increased by 98 percent totaling $15.1 billion in 2013, due to a massive drop in bullion prices.
According to the Turkey's statistics authority, TurkStat, Turkey imported 350.4 tons of gold bars last year, more than double from 2012, 157.5 tons.
In the second quarter of 2013, gold prices per ounce posted their sharpest drop, from approximately $1,600 to $1,240.
The current gold price is around $1,240 per ounce as of 31 January.
Switzerland was Turkey's largest gold provider, exporting 167 tons, $7.6 billion-worth. UAE followed with 111 tons in volume and $4.7 billion in value.
Turkey's gold exports were down by 75 percent in 2013.
Meanwhile, Turkey earned 75 percent less from its gold exports in 2013, compared to 2012, totaling $3.3 billion.
The top export destination for Turkish gold was Iran with $1.7 billion.
According to the Economy Ministry, Turkey earned $10.7 billion from gold exports in 2012. Earnings mostly came from Iran with $6.5 billion, while $3.5 billion came from the UAE and other remaining countries.
Turkey was paying for its natural gas imports with its own currency TL and Iran was using the money held in Turkey's state bank of Halkbak to buy gold.
Gold is also seen as a traditional investment for many Turks, who are seeking a security against the declining Turkish Lira in value.
Gold investments experts say that more than 5,000 tons of gold are held internally by Turkish residents, and are kept out of the banking system as a form of personal savings.
Turkey's government has attempted to persuade its citizens into storing their vast gold holdings in the nation's banking system.
If banking only 20 percent of this "investment" was added back into the economy, it would amount to a financial resource of about $36 billion, as of January 31 2014- with a ton of gold costing about $36 million, according to the experts.
Turkey provided in August 2012 its commercial banks the option of meeting a portion of their Turkish lira reserve requirements with alternatives, such as gold with 30 percent.
By Bahattin Gonultas
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