Reported 'black market' dodges unofficial Turkish-Saudi trade blockade

Reported 'black market' dodges unofficial Turkish-Saudi trade blockade
2 min read
01 April, 2021
Turkish traders are reportedly shipping products to third countries before they are exported to Saudi Arabia.
Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia have fallen dramatically [Getty]
Turkish exporters are removing "Made in Turkey" labels and rerouting goods through third countries to bypass an unofficial Saudi trade blockade, Reuters has reported.

Producing goods at least in part in nearby countries has allowed Turkish companies to obtain alternative customs documents and ditch labels affiliating their products with Turkey, several sources told Reuters.

While Saudi Arabia has never officially acknowleged a trade embargo against regional rival Turkey, numerous reports have claimed blocks at customs and encouragement of a boycott of Turkish products.

A Reuters review of official data found Turkish exports to the Gulf kingdom in the first two months of this year dropped by a massive 93 percent.

At the same time, trade data shows a 200 to 400 percent increase in the numbers of certain Turkish goods arriving in Oman and Lebanon.

"A black market is now emerging where brokers take the Turkish goods to other ports and forge the documents so they appear to be coming from China or Europe for fee," a Saudi importer told Reuters.

Another Saudi businessman who did not wish to be named explained that Turkish "companies who rely on Saudi Arabia as a main client rerouted their production lines in order to continue to be able to sell".


Seref Fayat, the head of Turkey's trade council for clothing and textiles, admitted that companies were sending goods to Bulgaria and Serbia for "finishing touches" before shipment to Saudi Arabia.

"Exporters are trying to overcome the blockade, but this means additional costs out of their pocket," Fayat said.

Turkish companies have reportedly held talks with the Saudi government in recent months in an attempt to restart direct trade, but progress has been unclear.

This week, Turkish officials raised the issue of Saudi Arabia's "restrictive policies and practices concerning Turkey" for the first time at the World Trade Organisation Goods Council meeting in Geneva.

Ankara has attempted to mend ties with Riyadh in recent months.

Tensions have been particularly high since the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.

Turkey's close relationship with Qatar has also strained ties with Saudi Arabia in recent years. Riyadh led an economic and diplomatic blockade of Doha until earlier this year.

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