Meeting and “economic breathing” ahead of Erdogan’s expected visit to Saudi Arabia

There is a state of anticipation within Turkish circles over the possible visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia, tomorrow, Thursday, after two well-informed sources made it known to “Reuters”, while no official comment was issued to compile until the hour of this report.

Information reported by the agency on Wednesday indicated that the Turkish president will meet Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a move that will be the first of its kind since 2018, when relations between the two countries strained wash.

The reason for the tension is due to Ankara’s support for Qatar in a dispute between the two Gulf countries, and then the tension escalated to a crisis stage after the assassination of writer and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was an opponent of Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Mohammed bin was. Salman, at his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Earlier this April, Ankara announced the transfer of the case of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, which Turkish circles saw in a previous interview with Al-Hurra website as a step to soften the atmosphere. and a starting point for the normalization of relationships.

No official confirmations.

In the absence of Turkish official confirmation of Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh has also not commented on it so far.

In recent months, Riyadh has pursued a “special agreement” policy, as it has not shown openness on its part to normalize relations with Ankara, contrary to what the Emirates, the other Gulf state, has done.

On the other hand, Ankara has moved into an accelerating context as its officials have on several occasions reiterated that they are normalizing and restoring relationships, and Erdogan recently announced “concrete steps” to improve relationships and the process develops in a “positive direction.”

In a remarkable move on Wednesday, Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebti posted a tweet on the Twitter network, in which he announced that he had met his Saudi counterpart, Muhammad Abdullah Al-Jadaan, via video technology.

“We had an online meeting with Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We exchanged ideas on economics, trade and investment to develop cooperation between our two countries,” he said. the tweet sounded. .

The economic sector is considered to be most affected by the tensions in the relationship between Ankara and Riyadh, over the past four years, to the point of a commercial boycott of Turkish products in Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan was scheduled to visit the Saudi capital, Riyadh, “sometime” in February, but without any official details being released, the visit has so far not taken place.

Erdogan reiterated in two separate statements during the aforementioned month that his country intends to “improve relations and promote positive dialogue with concrete steps in the coming period”, in addition to “solving economic problems.”

“economy breath”

Meanwhile, in addition to the meeting that Noureddine Nejati held with his counterpart Al-Jadaan, he has since Tuesday begun to notice the “economic soul” expressed by Turkish circles, which is reflected in the reports of newspapers close to the Turkish government.

And the economic newspaper “Dunia” reported that the boycott of Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, which began in 2020, “is nearing its end” with the positive path between the two countries.

And “the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to take a new step after Eid Al-Fitr” in this context, according to the newspaper.

It quoted two Turkish sources as saying that “after this development, they will reach the old level in trade in a short time.”

The newspaper notes that Turkish Airlines (THY) has created its flight plans in this context. According to the information, the number of flights to Saudi cities will increase from the beginning of May.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabian Airlines, which suspended its flights to European countries in the early days of the epidemic, is preparing to open flights that were not active in Turkey in May with the start of the normalization process.

The newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Saudi Airlines company has started its preparations at Istanbul airport, and reconnaissance flights are expected to start from the first days of May, mainly due to Hajj tourism.

“Ratios by numbers”

Trade between Turkey and Saudi Arabia was about $ 5.6 billion in 2015, before diplomatic problems.

With the decision of the Saudi unofficial ban on Turkish products in the last quarter of 2020, there was a significant drop in exports to this country.

“With the abolition of the boycott, our country’s exports could reach $ 3 billion,” said Kazim Tayci, head of the Istanbul Grain, Legumes, Oilseeds and Products Exporters Association.

He adds to the Dunya newspaper: “In our private sector, our exports to Saudi Arabia were as follows: $ 205 million in 2017, $ 227 million in 2018, $ 230 million in 2019, $ 181 million in 2020, and $ 3 million in 2021.”

He continued: “In the coming period, we will reach at least $ 250 million in the first place. Because our prices have risen during this period.”

In turn, Adil Pelister, President of the Association of Exporters of Chemicals and Products in Istanbul, believes that “the removal of trade barriers imposed on Turkey by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the near future has a positive impact on exports. will have. “

The head of the Istanbul Carpet Exporters Association, Ahmet Hayri Diller, added that reopening exports to Saudi Arabia is good news for them.

There are more than 200 Turkish companies operating in Saudi Arabia, and Riyadh is the second Gulf country after Qatar and the seventh in the world in terms of the volume of work carried out by Turkish contractors there.

Turkish exporters see that the political conflict between Turkey and Saudi Arabia is hurting trade, forcing the eight largest business groups in Turkey last year to issue a statement saying that the Saudi authorities have intensified their efforts to curb Turkish imports occurs, warning that global supply chains have been harmed by Riyadh’s move.

The groups have cited complaints from Saudi companies that authorities have forced them to sign letters pledging not to import Turkish goods, and have complained that Turkish contractors have been excluded from major tenders.

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