Turkey's exports hit an all-time high with $168.1 billion last year, the country's trade minister said on Friday.

Ruhsar Pekcan stated that exports in 2018 climbed 7.1 percent year-on-year, compared with nearly $157 billion in the previous year. 

"In 2018, imports fell by 4.6 percent on a yearly basis to $223.1 billion," Pekcan said. 

"Turkey's exports-to-imports coverage ratio reached 75.3 percent last year, up 8.2 percentage points from 2017," she added.

According to the preliminary data, Turkey's foreign trade balance posted a deficit of $55 billion last year, marking a significant improvement compared with $76.8 billion in 2017.

The final figures will be announced by the country's statistical authority on Jan. 31.

Trade minister stated that the increase in exports-to-imports coverage ratio would continue in 2019.

"Turkey maintains its strength in the export markets, as the whole world struggles with the uncertainties of global trade wars," said Pekcan.

"We not only enhance our potential in foreign trade, but also manage to access many parts of the world at the same time.

"Last year, Turkish exporters reached 242 markets around the world," she said.

Pekcan remarked that exports to Africa, which was identified as target market, surged 24 percent while exports to Latin America jumped 35.6 percent in 2018.

"Our long term goal is to restore a balanced structure in Turkey's foreign trade relations and thus gradually decrease our country's external finance need," she added.