Despite the diplomatic crisis and conflicts in the Middle East and the Gulf, Turkey's trade with the region accelerated in 2017 compared to the previous year as its foreign trade with the region increased by 22.1 percent, reaching $56.4 billion last year.
While political instability in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, pursued its effect last year, the problems that have arisen have worsened the economic stability of many countries in the region and led to worsening public finance due to the increase in defense spending.
The fall in purchasing power due to economic difficulties caused trade and investments in these countries to decline compared to previous years.
Despite the hitches in the Middle East, Turkey's trade and economic relations with the countries in the region continued to develop.
According to the 2017 annual report of the Economy Ministry, Turkey's exports to the Middle East and Gulf countries last year increased by 13.6 percent compared to the previous year, reaching $32.7 billion, while imports from the region increased by 36.3 percent to $23.6 billion.
Turkey's foreign trade volume with the region last year was about $56.4 billion, rising by 22.1 percent compared to 2016.
Qatar came to the fore in Turkey's economic relations in the Gulf region last year. During the crisis, which started after the coalition headed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5, 2017 and their decision to impose an economic embargo on the country, Turkey carried out a major logistics operation regarding Qatar. Turkey's exports to the country increased significantly, adding a new link to the emerging Turkish-Qatari economic relations.
The four Arab countries accused Doha of supporting terrorism. The Qatari government has denied the accusations, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.
In addition to diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis, Turkey has also sent food, including fruit, dairy and poultry products by ship and air, to help Qatar beat the embargo.
Turkey's exports to the country as of June, the start of the crisis, until December last year saw an increase of 92 percent compared to the same period of the previous year and reached $478 million.
Overall, Turkey's exports to the country rose by 48 percent to $650 million in 2017, while trade volume with the country stood at $1.3 billion. In this context, last year there was intense diplomacy in Turkey's economic and trade relations with Qatar.
Despite the diplomatic crises and conflicts, Turkish contractors maintained their investments in the Middle East and Gulf countries.
Turkish contractors have undertaken projects in the Middle East and Gulf countries worth $7.1 billion in 2014, $6.5 billion in 2015 and $6.6 billion in 2016.
While the number of projects conducted by the Turkish contractors in the region stood at 56 last year, the total amount of the projects in question was recorded as $5.2 billion.
In the ministry's report, it was noted that oil prices, which showed an increase last year, are expected to follow a horizontal course this year, and thus, it is anticipated that Turkey's trade volume with oil-exporting countries in the region will increase.
According to the report, the growth in the economies of oil exporting countries is predicted to increase if the increase in the price of oil continues.
With the rebound in oil prices in Middle Eastern countries, which hold 47.7 percent of the world's oil reserves, Turkey's trade volume with the Middle East and Gulf countries is expected to increase.
Turkey's exports in 2017 amounted to over $157.05 billion, marking a 10.2 percent rise compared with the previous year, according to the national statistical body. The country's foreign trade volume reached $390.84 billion in 2017, marking a 14.56 percent annual increase, according to provisional data provided by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) and the Customs and Trade Ministry. Meanwhile, Turkish imports climbed 17.7 percent to $233.79 billion.
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