The Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce expected the kingdom’s imports from Turkiye to increase in the near future, in the latest sign of the steady improvement of relations between two of the largest Islamic countries.
Sources in the Council of Chambers of Commerce, who requested to remain anonymous, told Anadolu Agency today that the import of Turkish goods by merchants will return to normal at an accelerated rate, as soon as the official announcement of the return of relations.
They stressed the absence of an official Saudi government decision banning imports, “especially with the good reputation of Turkish products in the largest Arab market. Turkish goods are still available in the local market.”
The kingdom’s imports from Turkiye rose by 2.8 per cent during the first two months of 2022, according to data from the Saudi General Authority for Statistics.
The value of imports in January and February reached 71.3 million riyals ($19 million) compared to 69.4 million riyals ($18.5 million) in the corresponding period of 2021.
This comes after the kingdom’s imports from Turkiye declined in 2021 by 62.3 per cent, to 3.32 billion riyals ($886 million), compared to 8.82 billion riyals ($2.35 billion) in 2020.
Over the past few years, relations between Saudi and Turkiye have been increasingly strained by diplomatic differences and by each other’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, and especially by Turkiye’s support of Qatar following the ongoing blockade imposed on it by the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt in 2017.
Relations reached breaking point with the murder of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year. 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, Turkiye has repeatedly called for those responsible to be brought to justice.
Consequently, the kingdom pushed a campaign to encourage its tourists to boycott Turkiye 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 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”.
Relations improved after Saudi and Qatar agreed to improve relations in January 2021.
Earlier this month Turkiye decided to halt and transfer the trial of Saudi suspects over the killing of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, to Saudi Arabia, in a move many have seen as part of efforts to improve ties between the two countries.