Israel will reopen its economic and trade office in Turkey, its economy minister said Tuesday, as the countries work to restore diplomatic ties that have been strained for more than a decade.
“The reopening of the economic attache reflects Israel’s commitment to deepening economic ties with Turkey,” Economy Minister Orna Barbivai said.
“We intend to soon promote a joint economic conference between the countries, after more than a decade.”
The move will help more than 1,500 Israeli companies that are currently exporting to Turkey, the ministry said.
Ohad Cohen, head of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy, said Turkey is “a significant economy” for Israel’s foreign trade.
“Today’s exports to Türkiye are concentrated and there is great potential for expansion. The potential inherent in the cooperation, for the benefit of the two countries,” he said.
Turkey and Israel have recently been trying to turn a new page, which was marked by the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara in March.
The countries withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke an Israeli blockade. The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.
Relations broke down again in 2018 when Turkey, angered by the United States moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, once more recalled its ambassador, prompting Israel to respond in kind.
The two countries have begun work on restoring their mutual diplomatic representation to the ambassador level, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last month.
Through the years of tensions, the countries have maintained trade links and Turkey remains one of Israel’s most important partners.
Their goods exchange has been surging over the past five years, with the turnover hitting a record $8.4 billion last year, according to official data, up from $6.2 billion in 2020.
Exports to Israel leaped more than 35% year-over-year to $6.4 billion last year, an all-time high. Imports jumped nearly 37% to $2.1 billion.
Erdoğan said the sides hoped trade would reach $10 billion this year.
Israel is among the countries Turkey registers a trade surplus with and has been its ninth biggest export market. According to Israeli figures, Turkey is the country’s fourth most important trade partner.
Turkey’s exports to Israel jumped by more than a third to $1.8 billion from January through March this year, the best first quarter yet, the official data showed.
Israel and Turkey signed a free trade agreement in 1997.