A boycott campaign of Turkish products in Saudi Arabia … “Erdogan...

Posted in: 22/10/2020 – 15:45

                After calling the head of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce to "boycott all that is Turkish," a number of Saudi stores announced that they would stop importing various Turkish products.  The Saudi authorities indicated that they had not placed any restrictions on Turkish products and that the boycott campaign was led by citizens, after suspicions were raised about Turkey filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization.  In addition, eight prominent Turkish groups stated that Saudi companies were "forced to sign letters obliging them not to import products from Turkey."             

Saudi stores have begun removing various Turkish products, from pickled grape leaves to coffee and cheeses, from their shelves after Saudi calls to boycott these products as the rivalry between Riyadh and Ankara intensified.

In early October, the head of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce called for a “boycott of all that is Turkish,” stressing that it is “the responsibility of every Saudi, the trader and the consumer, in response to the continuing hostility of the Turkish government against our leadership, our country and our citizens.”

Following this statement, major supermarket chains in Saudi Among them are the markets of Abdullah Al-Othaim, Tamimi and Banda that they will stop importing and selling Turkish products. Abdullah Al-Othaim Markets indicated in a statement via Twitter that the decision came “in solidarity with the popular campaign to boycott,” stressing that “our leaders, our government and our security are an untouchable red line.” Some shops stated that they will continue selling Turkish products until the current stock runs out.

A store in Riyadh removed “made in Turkey” products from a large number of shelves, and they filled carts with various products such as coffee, chocolate and boxes of pickled vegetables. It also replaced Turkish cheeses with cheese made in Egypt.

“This is a very sensitive issue,” a store manager said, preferring not to be named, refusing to address the fate of the goods that were not sold or the losses that the store would incur.

Turkish exporters of textiles and other goods recently complained of excessive delay at Saudi customs.

“Erdogan is fighting our country with our money”

The campaign is targeting Saudi The Turkish economy affected by the spread of the Corona virus, at a time when the Turkish lira fell to its lowest levels.

With the spread of the “Boycott Turkey” campaign on social media, a cartoon appeared with an arm with the Saudi flag on it pulling the ear of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom Riyadh accuses of interfering in its affairs.

“Stop buying any Turkish product … (Erdogan) is fighting our country with our money,” read a message spread on WhatsApp.

The prospect raised to the WTO

Amid doubts about the possibility of Turkey filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization, the Saudi authorities confirm that they have not placed any restrictions on Turkish products and that the boycott campaign is led by citizens. However, a joint statement issued by eight prominent Turkish groups stated that Saudi companies were “forced to sign letters obliging them not to import products from Turkey.”

In addition, the Turkish Contractors Union confirmed the existence of “various obstacles” to trade with Saudi Arabia, such as not inviting Turks to participate in soliciting offers, difficulty obtaining visas for Turkish employees, and a delay in payment.

The union estimates that “the negative impression on Turkey led to losses of three billion dollars in the Middle East for our contractors last year.” He added that Saudi Arabia, which was in second place “in the list of countries with the most business in 2016-2018 (with Turkey), has fallen to the lowest levels.”

And last year, Saudi tourists faced calls to boycott Turkey, a popular holiday destination in the region. There were also calls to stop buying real estate in Turkey.

It is not clear the direct reason for the recent launch of the Turkish goods boycott, but the two countries are fighting for influence in the Islamic world, and there are differences between Ankara. والرياض On regional issues from Libya to Syria and even Israel. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have long vied for the leadership of the Islamic world, but regional rivalry between them has intensified following the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi In 2018 at his country’s consulate in Istanbul. In addition, Turkey is close to Qatar and has a military base there, which is criticized by Riyadh.

Will the campaign affect the Turkish economy?

It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia ranks only 15th among the major markets for Turkish exports. Among the basic materials purchased in Saudi Arabia from Turkey are textiles, chemicals, furnishings, carpets and iron.

Official figures indicate a decline in Turkish exports to 1.9 billion dollars in the first eight months of this year, compared to 3.2 billion dollars in 2019.

Saudis have warned that the boycott campaign could extend to the kingdom’s regional allies.

Robert Mogielnicki, a resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, believes that “the bilateral trade flows between Saudi Arabia and Turkey are not large enough for the success or failure of the economy of either country.” “Turkey will lose more in the short term from the turmoil in bilateral trade relations. However, Saudi Arabia should tread carefully to mitigate any negative impact on its reputation in the world with regard to its trade policy,” he added.

France 24 / AFP


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