ISTANBUL (Dispatches) – Turkey’s leading business groups urged Saudi Arabia on Saturday to take action to improve trade relations as Turkish firms encounter growing problems in doing business with the Persian Gulf Arab state, while Saudi officials are reluctant to tread on a reconciliatory path.
"Any official or unofficial initiative to block trade between the two countries will have negative repercussions on our trade relations and will be detrimental to the economies of both countries,” eight Turkish business groups, including textile exporters and contractors, said in a statement on Saturday.
For more than a year, some Saudi and Turkish traders have speculated that Saudi Arabia was enforcing an informal boycott of imports from Turkey.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been at odds for some years over foreign policy and attitudes towards political groups. The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 sharply escalated tensions.
"We deeply regret the discriminatory treatment that our companies face in Saudi Arabia...We expect Saudi authorities to take concrete initiatives to resolve the problems,” said the business groups, which included the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), exporters’ assembly TIM and the chambers and commodity exchanges union (TOBB).
However, Saudi Arabia’s government media office has claimed authorities have not placed any restrictions on Turkish goods.
Last week, however, Ajlan al-Ajlan, the head of Saudi Arabia’s non-governmental Chambers of Commerce, called for a boycott of Turkish products in response to what he called continued hostility from Turkey.
Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Musa’ad has also called for boycotting Turkish imports after Turkish President Erdogan announced that his country’s army in Qatar helps stabilize security in the Persian Gulf states.
The prince retweeted Erdogan’s remarks and wrote: "Therefore, I call for a full popular boycott of Turkish products in order to protect the stability of Turkish economy and strengthen it.”
Replying to these tweets, Turkish journalist Kateb Oglu tweeted: "Saudi is the loser of this boycott because commercial relations between the two countries are not strong. The total annual Turkish exports are around $176 billion, only six or eight billion to Saudi Arabia.”