Turkey's foreign trade has undergone a radical transformation since the early 2000s. Our exports increased six-fold where our imports quadrupled. While the weight of agricultural products decreased in our exports, the weight of the sectors based on technology, such as automotive and electrical electronics started to increase.
The year 2017 has been a successful year for both GDP growth and exports thanks to the efforts of our exporters, the recovery in the global economy and the incentives of the Turkish government to revive the economy. In this period, while our exports displayed an increase above the world average, our exporters continued to with new investments and a great number of sectors achieved significant employment increases. We declared 2017 as "Breakthrough Year in Exports" and our exporters made it possible. In 2017, Turkey reached the second best export figure of all time and exported $157 billion worth of goods. Exports on a quantity basis also reached the highest level of history; with an increase of 10.9 percent to 115 million tons.
In 2018, which we declared as the “Year of Records”, we are breaking a new record every month. We had the highest January, February, March and April monthly exports of our history this year, and for the first time in March, monthly exports surpassed $15 billion, and our annualized exports reached $161.4 billion, the highest level in our history. We aim to end the year with $170 billion annual exports and with a new record every month for the rest of the 2018. However, in order to strengthen our presence in the global arena, it is vital that we expand our product range and improve the quality of our products. Especially the development of innovative products and R&D investments are extremely important.
To fulfill these targets, as Turkish Exporter's Assembly we continue to promote exports for the future of our country. Since 2012, we are organizing “Turkey Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week” and get a great number of participants from public entities, NGO's, business environment, CEO's, students, academics and experts in research and development to meet in one platform, under the same roof. We conduct many other projects as well, aiming to further increase the awareness on the importance of R&D and innovation. For instance, InoSuit and InovaLig.
The first innovation acceleration program in Turkey, InovaLig, gives a chance to Turkish companies to compete with 7,500 companies from 80 different countries according to their abilities on innovation in one platform. And in InoSuit, we provide innovation based mentorship to our firms and help them build a University-Industry partnership as well as building a “Corporate Innovation System”.
In addition, on May 8th we have launched an online portal called “Export Compass” located at “ihracatpusulasi.org.tr”. The portal includes information and guidelines on several aspects of trade; such as, how to establish a company, how to register at an exporters association, how to authorize a customs broker and so on. Thanks to this portal, exporters and entrepreneurs will be able to reach valuable information and data on exports. General political information about the countries as well as data on foreign trade, tax rates, flights from Turkey, embassies, commercial counselors, export/import prices and so forth.
In order to reach our 2023 targets, we are bound to multiply our share in global trade today. For now, we are the 17th largest economy in the world. However, our rank in exports is 31st. Our purpose is to strengthen Turkey's position, which forces us to build sustainable solutions to see improvements in Turkey's export ranking through investments on R&D and innovation. The future of our economy, relies in increasing the investments.