Istanbul – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”: With the unprecedented decline in Turkish-Saudi relations in light of deep disagreements over many of the region’s files, and in light of the failure of the unofficial campaigns to boycott Turkey, it seems that the Saudi authorities have begun to work to implement the official approach to boycott Turkey, whether through trade or tourism. Or others through direct government procedures, but without being formally adopted by a public government decision.
According to extensive data collected by Al-Quds Al-Arabi from the ministries of tourism, economy, trade and others in Turkey, the volume of trade exchange between the two countries is still maintaining to this day its normal levels that were before the outbreak of disputes, as previous campaigns have not succeeded so far in reducing the volume of trade – with There is a decline in economic relations in other aspects – but they have succeeded in reducing the numbers in the field of tourism.
For many months now, there has been talk of an official Saudi tightening – unannounced – to limit the arrival of Turkish goods to Saudi Arabia, by delaying trucks at crossings and customs and complicating import procedures, but the numbers have not significantly decreased, which explains the new government direction to raise the level of restrictions On Turkish products, but while not adopting this overtly, for reasons that seem related to preserving the remaining thread in the relations between the two countries and for fear of a similar Turkish reaction, especially since Saudi Arabia will also be affected by any decisions in this context.
And on Sunday, the head of the Saudi Council of Chambers of Commerce, Ajlan Al-Ajlan, called for a boycott of Turkish products, and a businessman wrote on Twitter, “Boycotting everything that is Turkish, whether on the level of import, investment or tourism, is the responsibility of every Saudi ‘merchant and consumer’, in response to the continuing The hostility of the Turkish government against our leadership, our country and our citizens.
The Saudi Council of Chambers of Commerce is a non-governmental body that includes businessmen from the private sector.
In response to a query from Reuters, the Saudi government media office said the kingdom is committed to international trade, investment agreements and free trade. The office added that the official authorities in the Kingdom did not impose any restrictions on Turkish goods.
Some Saudi and Turkish traders have believed for more than a year that Saudi Arabia is imposing an unofficial boycott on imports from Turkey. A Saudi importer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the containers he imported this year from Turkey had been with customs for three months before being released. He said customs officials informally advised him not to import directly from Turkey again.
Stability of levels of trade exchange
During the past years, the volume of trade exchange between Turkey and Saudi Arabia remained close to each other, as it witnessed a slight increase in some years and a slight decrease in other years, without any major changes despite the escalation of differences between the two countries. According to the data obtained by Al-Quds Al-Arabi from the official website of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the volume of trade exchange reached in 2015 to 5.59 billion dollars, in 2016 to 5 billion, in 2017 to 4.84 billion, in 2018 to 4.95 billion, and in 2019 to 5.1 Billion dollar.
In the details, the trade balance throughout those years was tilted in favor of Turkey, while between 2015 and 2017 Turkish exports exceeded Saudi imports by 1.3 billion dollars, the difference narrowed to 300 million dollars in 2018 in an indication of the decline in Turkish exports at the height of political differences between The two countries, before returning to its normal level of 1.3 in 2019.
Despite the tendency of the trade balance in favor of Turkey, trade exchange is in the interest of the two countries, and any decision to cut trade relations from any country means receiving the same amount of damage that will be caused by the other party.
The previous figures indicate that the volume of trade exchange, according to official figures until the end of 2019, did not witness any exceptional change and continued as it was before the eruption of major differences between the two countries in 2018, and the figures show that despite the tendency of the trade balance in favor of Turkey, but Trade exchange is in the interest of the two countries, and any decision to cut trade relations from any country means receiving the same amount of damage that will be caused to the other party.
While Turkey mainly imports from Saudi Arabia various petroleum products and chemicals, Saudi Arabia imports from Turkey cars, engines, spare parts, iron and aluminum, as well as various foods, electrical appliances, jewelry, furniture and clothes, according to data published by the Turkish embassy in Riyadh.
In the latest figures, data collected by Al-Quds Al-Arabi from the official website of the Turkish Ministry of Trade indicate that Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia between January and August of this year amounted to 1.9 billion dollars, a decrease of 400 million dollars for the same period. From last year, in which Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia amounted to 2.3 billion dollars.
While Turkey mainly imports from Saudi Arabia various petroleum products and chemicals, Saudi Arabia imports cars, engines, spare parts, iron and aluminum from Turkey, as well as various foods, electrical appliances, jewelry, furniture and clothes.
With regard to the numbers of Saudi exports to Turkey in the same period between January and August of this year, they amounted to $ 1.1 billion, compared to $ 1.44 billion in the same period last year, a decrease of $ 350 million, but If we take into account that the aforementioned period includes the period of general closure around the world due to the spread of the Coronavirus, the cessation of international trade and the decline in consumption, this is not considered an indication of a decline in the volume of trade exchange between the two countries despite all the crises that the political relations between them have experienced.
Tourism is declining
According to the data obtained by “Al-Quds Al-Arabi” from the official website of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of tourists coming from Saudi Arabia to Turkey in 2018 reached 747 thousand tourists, an increase of 15% over the year 2017, when the number of tourists reached more than 650 thousand , After it did not exceed 530 thousand in 2016, 450 thousand in 2015, and 341 thousand in 2014, and these numbers did not exceed 20,000 until 2008.
The influx of Saudi tourists to Turkey in recent years in unprecedented rates, despite the great political differences between the two countries and campaigns of intimidation, intimidation and boycott.
However, after the number of tourists in 2018 reached 747 thousand tourists, it decreased remarkably in 2019 to 564 thousand tourists, according to the official data of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism, which is a clear decline of 25 percent and came after official and unofficial campaigns that aimed to restrict Saudi tourism to Turkey.
In recent years, Saudi tourists are flocking to tourist places and cities in Turkey at unprecedented rates, despite the major political differences between the two countries and the campaigns of intimidation, intimidation and boycott that have raged in recent months, and the decline in tourist numbers indicates the success of the campaigns and official restrictions in reducing the volume of tourism. .
Saudis are currently the second most foreigners and Arabs to own real estate in Turkey
In addition to tourism, the Saudis tend to buy real estate more than before in Turkey, and many residential complexes in Istanbul are inhabited by large numbers of Saudis, while others are content to buy apartments for investment or leave them closed for use for a few days a year only. Hundreds of Saudis now own independent homes and high-end villas in the Black Sea coast, Lake Sapanca district, Polo and other beautiful tourist areas, as they are currently considered the second most foreigners and Arabs in general to own real estate in Turkey.
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