An unofficial embargo imposed by Riyadh on Turkish goods is undermining Turkey’s exports not only to the kingdom and but also to other Gulf and Arab countries, according to data released by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (Türkiye İhracatçılar Meclisi, or TİM).
For more than a year, a number of Saudi and Turkish traders have stressed that Saudi Arabia has been enforcing an informal boycott of imports from Turkey. In October Saudi authorities started calling on their citizens to “boycott everything Turkish” following a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing some Gulf countries of pursuing policies that were destabilising the region. The Saudi move seems to have been followed by unofficial boycott campaigns in other Arab countries.
According to TİM statistics, Saudi Arabia is the country’s 15th biggest export market, with sales led by carpets, textiles, chemicals, grains, furniture and steel amounting to $2.02 billion in the first nine months of the year, a drop of 16.1 percent compared to the same period of 2019.
Similarly, the exports of Turkish goods to Gulf and other Arab countries decreased in the January-August 2020 period compared to the same period last year, TİM figures revealed. Turkey’s exports to the United Arab Emirates (-16.92 percent), Bahrain (-17.71 percent), Kuwait (-4.18 percent), Algeria (-29.26 percent), Morocco (-13.68 percent), Iraq (-7.29 percent), Lebanon (-36.06 percent), Egypt (-11.89 percent) and Jordan (-10.89 percent) showed a marked decrease in 2020 over the previous year.
While some of the decline can be attributed to the pandemic, TİM statistics show that the Saudi boycott campaign might result in a sharp decline of Turkish exports to Arab countries.