The fall in Turkey’s exports to Saudi Arabia stretched to May as sales remained at a historic low amid a monthslong informal boycott by the kingdom.
The outcome of the recent efforts by Turkey to repair its strained ties with regional powers, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, remains to be seen.
Sales to the kingdom sank almost 95% year-on-year in May to only $7.17 million (TL 60 million), according to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) data.
Exports have dropped from around $139.5 million a year ago.
The May data follows collapses in recent months and reinforces the damage reportedly caused by Saudi Arabia’s unofficial boycott.
Riyadh never publicly acknowledged boycotting goods from Turkey, but last year Saudi businesspeople and retailers endorsed the move amid political tensions between the two regional rivals.
Turkey’s ties with Saudi Arabia, already strained by Ankara’s support for Qatar in a Gulf dispute, were thrown into crisis when dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi – a critic of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) – was killed by a Saudi hit squad in Istanbul in 2018.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday said Turkey hopes to maximize its cooperation with Gulf nations at a time when Ankara has intensified diplomacy to mend the fraught ties.
Turkey last month sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia for talks and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held talks in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
Çavuşoğlu said after talks in May that the two countries would maintain dialogue.
Aside from the Khashoggi incident, Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Israel, support of the coup in Egypt and its stance on Libya and Syria have been other points of contention between Ankara and Riyadh.
“We will seek ways to repair the relationship with a more positive agenda with Saudi Arabia as well,” Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said in late April, adding that he hoped the boycott would be lifted soon.
Turkey’s exports to Saudi Arabia plunged to just $74.12 million from January through May, the TIM data showed, down 93.6% from over $1.15 billion a year ago.
Trade Minister Mehmet Muş on Wednesday said they would be launching initiatives regarding the monthslong informal blockade.
“We will take steps regarding the discriminatory application related to the export products implemented by Saudi Arabia,” Muş told a meeting in the capital Ankara.