Turkey is reportedly set to raise its concerns regarding an unofficial Saudi boycott against its merchandise at the World Trade Organization (WTO), as Ankara-Riyadh relations further sour following the state-sponsored murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul.
London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye, citing two Turkish officials speaking on condition of anonymity, reported on Tuesday that Turkey will officially present its complaints regarding the kingdom’s pressure on local exporters, supermarket chains and companies not to do business with Turkish firms to the WTO later this week.
An official agenda by the WTO also disclosed Turkey’s plans to discuss Saudi Arabia’s “trade restrictive policies and practices” at the Goods Council meeting, which will run from March 31 to April 1.
Under WTO rules, Turkey may file a dispute against Saudi Arabia to seek compensation for recorded losses if it can prove unwarranted Saudi tactics against its businesses.
Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia dropped dramatically in February and recorded a drastic decrease of 92 percent, down from $290 million to just $21 million year-on-year, according to data released by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM).
In January, Turkish exports also suffered a 92 percent drop year-on-year.
The statistics reveal a steady slowdown in Turkish exports since last October. As a result, Turkey’s annual exports to Saudi Arabia decreased by 24 percent in 2020, from $3.1 billion to $2.3 billion.
Diplomatic tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have increased in recent years, particularly as both countries are involved in several regional conflicts, such as Libya, where they defend opposing sides.
Khashoggi’s murder in October 2018 escalated the tensions between the two sides.
Turkish officials say Khashoggi’s body was dismembered by Saudi killers and his remains are yet to be found.
Agnes Callamard, former UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, investigated Khashoggi’s murder.
She has said “credible evidence” links Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing of the Washington Post journalist and that he should be investigated.
Last October, Ajlan al-Ajlan, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce in Riyadh, launched a campaign via Twitter “A boycott of everything Turkish, be it imports, investment or tourism “in response to the “hostility of the Turkish government” against Riyadh.
The Saudi Chambers of Commerce is a non-government group of private sector business officials.
Saudi Arabian fast food company Herfy even decided to rename its “Turkish burger” as “Greek burger.”
There was nothing particularly Turkish about the patty burger other than its name, an Ottoman fez and a burly moustache.
But the company nonetheless felt that it was a “duty towards our great homeland” to change the name. It even released a statement on social media clarifying its position.
Report: Saudi authorities seize 1.3 million drug pills smuggled from Turkey
Separately, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA said on Monday that customs authorities at the Red Sea port city of Jeddah had seized 1,323,000 Captagon pills, which were purportedly hidden in a cargo of clothes.
The report added that the drugs were stitched into the linings of a consignment of fur clothing that had arrived from Turkey’s southern port city of Iskenderun.
The Captagon pills were detected by X-ray machines, senior Saudi customs official Mohammed al-Naeem said.