Turkish-Egyptian trade not adversely affected by political tension

Turkish-Egyptian trade not adversely affected by political tension

Despite rising tensions after Egypt and Turkey reciprocally declared each other's ambassadors persona non grata, economic relations between the two countries remain unharmed Today`s Zaman reported.

Both countries are eager to avoid harming bilateral economic ties, Hasan Ali Erdem, Turkey's commercial attaché at the embassy in Cairo, has told Today's Zaman.

Turkey is a major export market for Egypt; it was Egypt's fifth-largest export market last year. According to figures from the first six months of this year, Turkey is fourth, Erdem said. Turkey's exports to Egypt, on the other hand, suffered a minor decline this year due to gasoline aid provided to Egypt by Gulf states, he said.

Egypt's exports to Turkey amounted to $1.562 billion last year, while the figure for the first six months of the current year is $844 million. In 2012, Turkey exported $3.705 billion worth of goods to Egypt, while the figure from January through October this year amounts to $2.710 billion.

Egypt remains one of the main routes for Turkish exports to Gulf countries. Turkish trucks take roll on-roll off (ro-ro) ships to Egypt's port of Damietta, then proceed to the Adabiya port on the Red Sea coast to take another ro-ro ship to Saudi Arabia's Duba port. Truck transport is exempt from customs duties as per a previously signed agreement between the two countries.

Atilla Ataseven, president of the Turkish-Egyptian Businessmen Association (TÜMİAD), has said that Egyptian businesspeople told, in friendly reproaches, Turkish officials that Turkey should avoid moves that may be seen as intervention in Egypt's domestic affairs. He also stressed that there has been no other negativity on the part of the Egyptian government toward Turkish businesspeople.

Ataseven said that the Egyptian business community is trying to make it through the country's transition with as little damage as possible. "We request that Turkey, which has stood by us during our hard times, not make statements regarding issues that we will settle domestically," he quoted Egyptian businesspeople as saying. Admitting that the political tension between the two countries nevertheless leads some businesspeople to adopt a wait-and-see policy, Ataseven stressed that the friendship between the two peoples is unharmed.

According to Ataseven, the fact that Egyptian employees working for Turkish companies in Egypt do not have negative feelings toward Turkish businesspeople is proof of the love between the two countries. Thanks to the free-trade agreement that went into effect in 2007, there has been, in recent years, a sharp rise in bilateral trade between the two countries, which in turn has made a very positive contribution to political and diplomatic ties.

Despite the diplomatic tension, last week Egypt ruled in favor of Turkish companies in an antidumping investigation into construction iron. The investigation was launched after some Egyptian iron-steel companies filed complaints. With the vindication of Turkish firms, Turkey's exports to Egypt may significantly rise, given that Egypt is expecting a boom in its construction sector.

When Egypt's deposed President Mohammed Morsi was in power, Egypt imported considerable amounts of gasoline from Turkey. But when some Gulf countries started to provide gasoline to Egypt after the military regime overthrew the Morsi government, Turkey's exports to the North African country were negatively affected.

Businesspeople maintain that Turkey's trade volume with Egypt -- Turkey's gateway both to African and Gulf countries -- could easily reach $10 billion in a short period of time. Egypt, for its part, sees Turkey as a key country for access to markets in Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Ataseven, who noted that Egyptian ministers have often said trade agreements between the two countries would not be negatively affected, called on both sides to calm tensions as soon as possible.

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