Egyptian soldiers assist Turkish convoys in Egypt

Arab World Materials 16 September 2013 08:58 (UTC +04:00)
Egyptian soldiers assist Turkish convoys in Egypt
Egyptian soldiers assist Turkish convoys in Egypt

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 16 / Trend /

Egyptian soldiers under the control of the Egyptian army's Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are continuing their security assistance to Turkish transportation in Egypt despite Turkey's harsh stance on the military coup, according to the Turkish Ekonomist magazine Today`s Zaman reported.

Turkish exporters have been worrying that the Egyptian coup might jeopardize trade routes. Opposition between the Turkish government and the Egyptian military junta had the potential to hinder transit for Turkish logistics companies through the ports and across the 700-kilometer land routes. According to some sources, highway robberies and lootings on Egyptian roads have increased since the coup. Because of these security concerns, freight companies have had difficulties in finding and sending drivers to Egypt to continue the existing Gulf trade.

Although the military junta headed by Gen. Sisi faced the strongest opposition on the international stage from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Egyptian military still accompanies Turkish truck convoys during their journeys on Egyptian roads, providing security assistance. Gen. Sisi has now become the most crucial player in Turkey's Gulf trade, which brings $10 billion to the Turkish economy every year.

Although Turkish economic activities in Egypt seem to be guaranteed by the Egyptian interim government, Turkish exporters are still on tenterhooks about their trade with Gulf countries in the future due to the ongoing political tension between the two countries. Recently, a Turkish citizen named Raşit Oguz was detained in Ismailiyyah in Egypt according to an Egyptian news agency, being accused of spying for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

In addition, around 100 Turkish truck drivers were stuck for two months at the Egyptian ports in June and July because of an economic dispute between a Turkish company, Ro-Ro, and an Egyptian local agency that provides ground service assistance. The Turkey-based International Transporters' Association (UND) visited the region and negotiated with the Egyptian dealer. The drivers were allowed to pass, sailing for Turkey before Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim religious holiday.

Last month, Turkey and Egypt withdrew their ambassadors from each other's territories due to escalating opposition between the countries after the military coup.

With neighboring Iraq and Syria struggling with civil wars, Turkish exporters had no choice but to use Egyptian routes to transport their goods to Gulf countries, requiring a 40 percent higher cost and 100 percent increase in delivery time compared with the Iraqi and Syrian routes. During an Egyptian visit to Turkey last year, the current Turkish economy minister, Zafer Caglayan, and the former Egyptian transportation minister, Galal Moustafa Saeed, signed a trade agreement concerning the use of Egyptian ports and roads as a trade hub for Turkish goods traveling to the Gulf region. Since then, Ro-Ro ships have been carrying Turkish trucks of exported goods from Turkey's İskenderun port to the Egyptian Port Said and Damietta Port. The trucks are then driven until they reach the port of El-Adabiya, which is located on Egypt's Red Sea coast. Bypassing the costly Suez Canal via Egyptian soil, the Ro-Ro ships transport the trucks to Saudi Arabia's Duba port, where the Turkish goods are distributed to the Gulf countries.

The Suez Canal would have been an alternative to the current Ro-Ro routes but had its own drawbacks such as shipping regulations and higher costs. In July, the Turkish Economy Ministry called the Ro-Ro company for a meeting at its headquarters to discuss the Suez Canal alternative. Some key sources from Ro-Ro told Today's Zaman that, although it has not yet been announced, the ministry agreed to subsidize the company's use of the Suez Canal, which costs $250,000 for each passing. However, the ministry's solution to avoid the use of the risky Egyptian land routes has not been actualized due to internal problems with the company's transportation lines, and the ministry has suspended its licenses to use the Suez Canal route.