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Turkey economy grows robust 4 percent in 2015 despite crises

The figures are a boost for the government and come despite a series of militant attacks which began last year and hit tourism hard
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is widely credited with overseeing an economic boom in the country (AFP)

Turkey's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.0 percent in 2015 from a year earlier, the statistics office said on Thursday, beating expectations and helped by an unexpectedly robust fourth quarter.

The economy grew 5.7 percent in the last three months from the same period a year earlier, the office said in a statement, well above the market consensus. 

The full-year growth figure was well above the 2.9 percent reading in 2014.

The figures are a boost for the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at time when Turkey has been rocked by a series of militant attacks which are hurting its key tourist industry.

There have also been concerns over the consistency of economic policy under Erdogan and the economic fallout from a row with Russia after the shooting down of a Russian warplane on 24 November.

The reading of 5.7 percent growth in the fourth quarter was by far the best of 2015 with 3.9 percent growth recorded in the third quarter.

"The economy continued to grow in the last quarter despite political uncertainty, tension with Russia, and rising terrorism," said Ozgur Altug, chief economist at BGC Partners in Istanbul. 

"The figures confirmed the Turkish economy’s resilience to shocks," he added.

The economic prospects for 2016 could be less certain, however, with tourism taking a heavy blow after a sequence of suicide attacks in Istanbul and Ankara this year blamed on the Islamic State group and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). 

The number of foreigners entering Turkey fell 10.32 percent in February, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, investors are also concerned over stubbornly high inflation - 8.8 percent in February - and uncertainty over the figure of monetary policy when respected governor Erdem Basci's mandate expires next month.

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