Turkey files WTO complaint against Saudi boycott

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Turkey has taken its trade dispute with Saudi Arabia to the WTO by filing a formal complaint with the organization, it has been reported.

Turkey has filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Saudi Arabia in response to the kingdom's unofficial boycott of its goods.

While no formal measures have ever been announced by Riyadh, imports to the country from Turkey have dropped significantly in recent months as political relations between the two nations have worsened.

Middle East Monitor reports figures from the Turkish Exporters Assembly show exports to Saudi Arabia dropped by 93.7 per cent year-on-year in March, from $298.2 million in 2020 to just $18.9 million this year.

The publication noted that Turkish trade minister Ruhsar Pekcan has claimed Riyadh has been suspending a number of Turkish imports since November 2020.

Although Saudi officials have denied any trade ban, the government has been encouraging its citizens to avoid doing business with Turkey, including property sales, food consumption and tourism to the country.

Therefore, Turkey has pressed forward with moves to address the situation. According to news provider Arabi21, it has sent three letters to Saudi trade minister Majed Al Kasabi calling for the release of Turkish shipments blocked by the kingdom's customs agency, as well as raising the issue at the WTO.

Last month, a senior Turkish official told the Middle East Eye: "Whenever we bring up the issue, they convey some excuses and deny that there is any boycott against Turkish exporters whatsoever. Our repeated attempts to remedy the situation didn't go anywhere. That’s why we decided to take it to the WTO."

Relations between the two countries have been strained for a while. Amongst the issues are Turkey's support for Qatar, which Saudi Arabia has also subjected to a trade boycott, as well as their stances on the Syrian civil war. 

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 - which a UN report concluded was orchestrated by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman - has also damaged bilateral relations.