Trade between Turkey and Qatar is expected to have hit $2 billion in 2018, a Turkish official said, up 54 percent from the previous year, underscoring Ankara's solidified role as a top ally to Qatar amid a political rift in the Gulf region.
Ankara has emerged as one of Qatar's top partners since a Saudi Arabia-led bloc launched a trade and diplomatic boycott of the tiny Gulf state in 2017, sending additional troops and food to shore up Qatar's needs just after it began.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charge and says the boycott aims to infringe on its sovereignty.
Speaking at the Turkey Expo by Qatar that kicked off in Doha Wednesday, Deputy Finance Minister Osman Dinçbaş said Qatar was one of the fastest growing areas of trade for Turkey in 2018, and the $2 billion figure is expected to grow.
Qatar last year pledged a $15 billion package of economic projects, investments and deposits for Turkey that included an up to $3 billion currency swap to firm up the Turkish lira.
Dinçbaş said "a portion of the $15 billion" had so far arrived but declined to specify how much or in what form.
Turkey-Qatar trade volume for the first 10 months of 2018, the latest data available, indicates $1.7 billion of total trade, higher than the $1.3 billion in all of 2017, a Turkish trade official said.
That trade includes goods such as Turkish food and building materials to Qatar and Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) and aluminum to Turkey.
Abu Issa Holdings, one of the largest distributors and retailers of supermarket goods in Qatar, has seen its Turkish brands mushroom to about 25 percent of its portfolio from about 10 percent before the boycott, CEO Ashraf Abu Issa said.
At the expo, Abu Issa showcased Turkish honey and pasta introduced after the boycott that he said have become top sellers in Qatar, replacing Saudi and Emirati brands that once crowded shelves in Doha.
Others, like Kingspan, an importer of Turkish insulated panels for warehouses and cold storage, said volume nearly doubled last year.
Abu Issa said he would stick with Turkish brands that have become popular even if the boycott were lifted, despite higher shipping costs.
"We will continue with Turkey for sure. They are not a replacement. This should have happened a long time ago – we discovered some amazing products and the quality is superior to what we would get from there," he said.
Also speaking on the sidelines of the expo, Deputy Treasury Minister Nureddin Nebati said they also expect trade volume between the two countries to have reached $2 billion in 2018, with Turkey's exports to the country exceeding $1 billion.
Nebati noted that the trade between Turkey and Qatar is expected to be around $2.5-$3 billion this year.
During his stay in the country, deputy treasury minister has met senior officials, including a number of ministers.
Nebati informed that they had productive meetings and that they were also to hold talks with a number of private sector and government representatives, who want to invest in Turkey.
"There is a serious investment demand in all areas for Turkey," he added.
Over 100 Turkish companies operating in various sectors have attended the Turkey Expo by Qatar, the biggest fair that introduces Turkish companies to the Gulf countries.
The region's leading companies such as Abuissa Holding, Milaha, Q Post, Al Faisal Holding were also attending the fair, supported by the Turkish and Qatari governments.
Within the scope of the fair, aimed at realizing important breakthroughs in Turkish-Qatar trade relations, Qatari companies with a total fund size of $60 billion were to meet Turkish businessmen with the support of the Qatari government. The leading representatives of many sectors such as real estate, construction, building materials, information technology, advanced technology, food, machinery and machinery equipment, health tourism, textile, furniture and decoration were to discuss cooperation and investment opportunities between the two countries.