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Turkish construction companies’ projects in foreign countries plummeted dramatically in the first half of 2016 due to problems in the country’s main markets, according to a new report by the Contractors’ Association of Turkey (TMB).

Turkish companies, which long ranked second after Chinese companies in terms of carrying out foreign projects in the ENR list, undertook 45 projects totaling around $2.8 billion in the first six months of the year, according to the TMB report, which was based on data from the Economy Ministry. This marks a sharp drop compared to the sector’s revenue earned abroad in previous years.

Turkish construction companies carried out foreign projects worth over $26 billion in 2014, and projects worth $22 billion in 2015. The Turkish construction sector hit $10 billion in annual revenue in their works abroad for the first time in 2005, and has shown an average of $20 billion in performance annually since 2006, according to Economy Ministry data. While the sector reached its highest volume in 2013 with more than $30 billion in value, 2016 has marked the worst year for the companies in more than a decade, data showed.

“The project volume in foreign countries recently plunged dramatically mainly due to problems in Turkey’s main markets. In today’s conjuncture, which is characterized by key geopolitical risks and the oil plunge, which hit Turkey’s main markets, it will be crucial for Turkey to strengthen its ties with its main markets again as well as seeking new markets,” said the TMB report, evaluating the sector’s position as of the end of August.

Turkish companies undertook a total of 8,838 projects in 109 countries between 1972 and the end of June 2016, according to the ministry data. Russia took the lion’s share with 19.7 percent of these projects, followed by Turkmenistan with 14.7 percent, Libya with 8.9 percent, Iraq with 7.2 percent and Kazakhstan with 6.4 percent.

In the first half of the year, the distribution of such projects in countries changed significantly with the rise of economic woes in Turkey’s main oil-exporting markets and diplomatic problems between Turkey and Russia. The United Arab Emirates topped the list in the first six months of the year by taking some 22.2 percent of Turkey’s foreign construction projects, followed by Bahrain with 19.7 percent, Morocco with 16.1 percent, Senegal with 13.6 percent and Nigeria with 6.5 percent, according to the data.

The TMB report noted that normalizing ties with Russia will play significant role in boosting the sector’s works abroad after the recent lull. It also stated that the planned sovereign wealth funds and rising financing opportunities from a series international development and infrastructure banks will also make key contribution in future projects.

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