At a trade event between the Saudi and Turkish governments this week, Saudi minister of commerce Majid Bin Abdullah al-Qasabi announced that, as of Thursday, there were no custom restrictions preventing the import of Turkish goods into the kingdom. "Let's come together and make a fresh start by convening Saudi and Turkish business people in a joint forum and move forward," the minister said.
In 2020, Riyadh imposed a silent and unofficial boycott of Ankara, preventing trucks holding Turkish goods from entering the kingdom, forcing Saudi businesses to cut off their trade with Turkey, and pressuring businessmen to end their investments in the country.
That boycott was primarily due to the clash of foreign policy goals between Riyadh and Ankara in the region, with the two backing opposing sides in Libya and disagreeing over the legitimacy of the government in Egypt installed after the 2013 military coup. Turkiye was also pushing to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018, in which it maintained that the Saudi government and Crown Prince were involved.
Did Turkey bow down to Saudi Arabia?
Following the past year of conciliatory talks and Turkey's handing over of the Khashoggi case to Saudi Arabia in April, the two former rivals have reset their relations after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Turkiye and met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week.
Although Saudi Arabia was not the most significant market for Turkish exports, the boycott of Turkish goods resulted in a sharp decline in the exports to the kingdom by almost 92 per cent up to 2021. Aside from the political opportunities the reconciliation seemingly presents to Turkiye, the resumption of those exports is seen as a way to help revive the country's struggling economy.
At the trade event, the chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkiye, Nail Olpak, stated that the country's aim is to increase bilateral trade with the kingdom from $4 billion in 2020 to $10 billion next year.
The economic revival is also predicted to come in the form of resumed Saudi investment in Turkiye. During his visit, bin Salman was accompanied by 35 business people who signed a series of deals with Turkish companies. To that end, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih also invited Turkish firms to participate in the kingdom's investment projects which are reportedly valued at $3.3 trillion.
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