Saudi Arabia’s purchases of Turkish goods remain at a historic low, official data showed Tuesday, despite recent efforts to mend strained ties.
Saudi Arabia’s imports from Turkey all but dried up in June as they fell to as low as 5.7 million riyals (around $1.52 million), according to the General Authority for Statistics, remaining at a historic low after a monthslong informal boycott by the kingdom.
They sank from 21.8 million riyals in May, and from as much as 712.4 million riyals in June last year.
Ankara and Riyadh have in recent months attempted to repair some diplomatic damage after a decade of tension, especially after the 2018 murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul Consulate.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in April and May discussed bilateral relations with Saudi King Salman. A month later, Erdoğan said Ankara hoped to maximize its cooperation with Gulf nations.
Turkey has also been making progress in mending fraught ties with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Turkey in May sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia for talks and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
The kingdom never publicly acknowledged it was boycotting goods from Turkey, but last year Saudi business people and retailers endorsed the move amid political tensions between the two regional rivals.
To circumvent the unofficial blockade, some Turkish exporters have been rerouting food, clothing and other goods.
Meanwhile, the official data showed that the value of Saudi Arabia’s oil exports in June increased 123% to 61.5 billion riyals ($16.4 billion) from a year earlier while non-oil exports rose by around 41%.
Overall exports increased by nearly 92% in June compared to a year earlier when international trade was curbed by lockdowns and travel disruptions related to the coronavirus crisis, said the General Authority for Statistics.
Oil exports accounted for 72% of total exports in June, up from 62% in June last year, it said.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, was hit hard last year as oil prices plummeted and measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic hurt its non-oil economy.
But the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter grew for the first time since the coronavirus crisis, on the back of the easing of restrictions and rebounding oil prices.
China remained Saudi Arabia’s main trading partner in June, with exports there amounting to nearly 20% of total exports.
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