The Turkish Exporters Union confirmed that Riyadh officially suspended imports of meat, eggs and other products from Turkey earlier this month, following an unofficial boycott of Turkish products for months amid political tensions between regional competitors.
Despite the phone call made by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the doors he opened for a truce that managed to avoid further media escalation between the two countries, Turkish exporters talk about increasing obstacles to work in Saudi Arabia that threaten the Turkish economy, which is already suffering. Acute crunch.
Businessmen in the Kingdom recently led calls for a ban on Turkish imports, in conjunction with a major deterioration in relations between the two countries due to Ankara’s expansion activities.
Relations between Ankara and Riyadh have been strained for years due to the foreign policies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his interference in the affairs of Arab and Gulf countries and pushing towards a state of instability to ensure Turkey’s influence in the region and its leadership in the Islamic world.
The strained relations entered into a crisis two years ago due to Turkey’s attempts to internationalize the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, led by a fierce campaign aimed at distorting the Saudi leadership. Thus stripping it of regional and “Islamic” influence.
Ankara says that Riyadh has informed it that there is no official boycott, but the Exporters Union said that the Turkish Ministry of Trade informed it that it had decided to suspend imports of some Turkish goods earlier this month.
The union informed its members in an e-mail, stating, “Imports of red meat and its products, white meat and its products, water products, eggs, honey and their products, as well as milk and breast milk substitutes, it has been suspended from 15 November.”
The Turkish Exporters Association says that exports to Saudi Arabia fell 16 percent in the first ten months of this year, to $ 2.23 billion.
And Turkish Trade Minister Roosar Bakjan said this week that Riyadh confirmed that there is no official boycott of Turkish goods, which Ankara can contest before the World Trade Organization.
Amid doubts about the possibility of Turkey filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization, the Saudi authorities assert that they have not placed any restrictions on Turkish products and that the boycott campaign is led by citizens.
“We expect concrete steps to solve problems in our commercial and economic relations,” Sabah newspaper quoted Bakjan as saying. “Our counterparts told us that there is no official decision, that there are some exceptional issues.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman agreed in a phone call last week to “keep the channels of dialogue open to improve bilateral relations and overcome problems.”
Both countries have reasons to calm tensions before transferring power to a new US administration. President-elect Joe Biden, who had previously criticized Erdogan, will face pressure from Congress to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of Russian weapons and has pledged to reassess relations with Saudi Arabia.
However, there has been no sign yet of a Saudi-Turkish reconciliation, and some Turkish businessmen say they have been feeling “pain” for months.
“Although there is no official ban, we are unable to send many products to Saudi Arabia, which includes poultry products,” said Syed Koca, general manager of the Turkish Poultry Company.
He added that the delayed arrival of the goods for weeks led to the collapse of sales of products such as hatching eggs, which required rapid transportation.
Saudi stores began removing various Turkish products, from pickled grape leaves to coffee and cheese, from their shelves, after Saudi calls to boycott these products.
Turkish exporters of textiles and other goods recently complained of excessive delay at Saudi customs.
And early last October, the head of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce called for a “boycott of everything that is Turkish,” stressing that it is “the responsibility of every Saudi, the trader and the consumer, in response to the continuing hostility of the Turkish government against our leadership, our country and our citizens.”
The Saudi campaign targets the Turkish economy affected by the spread of the new Corona virus, at a time when the Turkish lira fell to its lowest levels.
Saudi Arabia is only 15th among the major markets for Turkish exports. Among the basic materials purchased in Saudi Arabia from Turkey are textiles, chemicals, furnishings, carpets and iron.
Official figures indicate a decline in Turkish exports to 1.9 billion dollars in the first eight months of this year, compared to 3.2 billion dollars in 2019.