Saudi Arabia shuts down the export door to Turkey


DUBAI, March 25 (Reuters) – The value of Saudi Arabian imports from Turkey, already at record lows amid an informal boycott, fell further in January, official data showed on Thursday.


Saudi businessmen and retailers last year called for a ban on Turkish imports over political tensions between the two regional rivals.


Imports from Turkey fell to 14.1 million riyals ($3.76 million) from 50.6 million in December, and from 622 million riyals in January 2020, data from Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics showed.


December was already the lowest figure since Saudi Arabia started publishing monthly trade data in 2016.


Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been at loggerheads since the 2011 uprisings across the Arab world when Riyadh accused Ankara of supporting Islamist political groups.


Tensions escalated in 2018 over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.


Turkey dropped to 76th in imports from 13th in January last year, the data showed.


In November, Saudi Arabia formally suspended imports of meat, eggs and other products from Turkey, the Turkish exporters’ union said.


The Saudi government has said the authorities have not placed any restrictions on Turkish goods.


Saudi Arabia’s overall value of imports in January increased by 20.7% year on year to 47.9 billion riyals, the data showed.


Imports from China ranked first at 9.6 billion riyals in January, followed by the United States and the United Arab Emirates.



The concealed ban on Turkish exports is the strongest signal to date that Gulf Kingdoms, or Egypt are not yet ready to make peace with Turkey.  This export ban is only the tip of the iceberg, while there is no data available, Turkish contractors are also likely to lose lucrative infrastructure contracts in the Gulf region.  It can also be expected the ongoing conflict will reduce Arab tourists, an important share of foreign visitors, as well as house purchases.



While Turkey and Gulf Nations had fallen apart on some issues in the past, such as Turkey’s occupation of northern parts of Syria, and her alliance with Iran, this is the first episode where political disagreements spilled over to trade and business.


The conditions by Sunni Arab nations to normalize diplomatic relations with Turkey are simple:  Extradite Moslem Brotherhood leaders and stop meddling in our domestic affairs. With Saudi Arabia, it is more complicated, as the Court probably also demands that Turkey cover up the heinous murder of dissident Saudi journalist Adnan Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.