Business leader troubled by Saudi-Turkey trade tensions

ANKARA, TURKEY 

Amid political tensions between Ankara and Riyadh over trade, the head of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) expressed concern Wednesday over a semi-official boycott of Turkish products in Saudi Arabia.

“We all know that unfortunately trade is used as a tool in politics,” said Ismail Gülle.

However, the aim of politics is to facilitate trade, creating platforms where both sides will win, but the opposite is being done, he underlined.

Several media outlets have reported that the authorities responsible for Saudi Arabia’s commercial sector have been pressuring Saudi companies to stop commercial dealings with Turkey, including boycotting Turkish products, investment and tourism to the country.

Yet Saudi Arabia’s government media office has denied the validity of the reports, saying it has not placed any restrictions on Turkish goods and is committed to international agreements and treaties and free trade.

But in an apparently informal boycott of imports from Turkey, signs urging customers not to buy Turkish goods were spotted last week in some retail stores in the capital Riyadh.

Also, on social media, the hashtags #Boycott_Turkish_Products and #Turkish_Products_Boycott_Campaign have been trending for the past month.

Noting that the natural stone industry exported $1.86 billion worth of products last year, Gülle said: “The troubles are obvious this year. Saudi Arabia is an important market for our natural stone exports.

“The boycott of Turkish goods here was also one of the important factors affecting our business.”

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been deteriorating in recent years over foreign policy.

Tensions increased following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, and Turkey’s strong stance demanding the trial of those responsible for his killing has only worsened the situation.

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