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Turkey files complaint at World Trade Organisation against Saudi boycott

April 20, 2021 at 11:09 am

The World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters are seen in Geneva on April 12, 2018 [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]

Ankara filed a complaint against Riyadh at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the semi-official Saudi boycott of trading with Turkey, Arabi21 reported yesterday.

Reporting the Turkish Sabah newspaper, Arabi21 said that Turkish officials had presented restrictive Saudi trade policies and practices.

Sabah said that a request was sent to the Saudi trade authorities calling for the release of Turkish shipments blocked by the kingdom’s customs agency.

Meanwhile, the newspaper said, Turkey took two simultaneous measures to deal with the semi-official boycott; sending three letters to the Trade Minister Majed Al Kasabi and raising the issue at the WTO in order to find a solution.

Saudi Arabia, according to Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, has been suspending a number of Turkish imports since 15 November 2020.

READ: Turkey, Qatar unite to increase reach of Turkish products

Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia, the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) said, dropped 93.7 per cent in March, from $298.2 million to just $18.9 million year on year.

Over the past few years, relations between Saudi and Turkey have been increasingly strained by diplomatic differences and by each other’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, and especially by Turkey’s support of Qatar following the blockade imposed on it by the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt in 2017.

Relations reached a breaking point with the murder of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Following months of investigations into the murder and a UN report concluding that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi under the direct command of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Turkey has repeatedly called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Where is Jamal Khashoggi?... - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Where is Jamal Khashoggi?… – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Consequently, the kingdom has been pushing a campaign to encourage its tourists to boycott Turkey through all possible means, including the purchase of products, consumption of foods, sale of properties, dealings with Turkish companies, and especially tourism to the country. The campaign has garnered support amongst Saudi royals and figures, a famous case being when Riyadh’s influential governor Faisal Bin Bandar declined an offer of Turkish coffee, triggering a call for a boycott of Turkish products.

In August 2019, Saudi’s Ministry of Education made a series of modifications to its history books, altering the legacy of the Ottoman Empire and referring to it as an “occupation”.

Saudi has repeatedly denied that it has imposed a ban on trading with Turkey and no official move has been taken in this regard.

READ: Saudi Arabia closed Turkey language schools for political reasons