In the wake of the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza, Turkey has intensified its anti-Israel stance, shifting from political rhetoric to concrete economic measures. The latest development in this growing diplomatic rift involves Turkey’s decision to remove Israel from Ankara’s list of export destination countries, directly impacting trade relations between the two nations.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israel, has consistently attacked the country in the political arena. The Turkish government has now extended its anti-Israel stance to economic policies by discontinuing support for trade and businesses operating with Israel.
The decision comes on the heels of Israel’s surprising performance as Turkey’s 13th largest export destination in 2023, despite the ongoing war. Trade data reveals that goods worth approximately $5.42 billion, constituting about 2.1% of Turkey’s total exports, were shipped to Israel. However, this figure marks a significant decline from the $7 billion worth of goods exported in 2022.
Photo: AFP, Turkish Presidency press
Contrary to the strained diplomatic relations, official figures from the Turkish Ministry of Transport indicate that since October 7, 701 ships have sailed from Turkey to Israel.
Dr. Chai Eitan Cohen Yanrojak, an expert on Turkey at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, explains the implications of Turkey’s latest economic move. “In a stated manner, the step means that the Turkish Ministry of Commerce no longer encourages and will not subsidize any business move in the Israeli market,” he states. This includes a halt to activities like joint conferences of trade associations, which were previously financed by the Turkish Ministry of Commerce.
For instance, in March 2022, the Turkish Ministry of Commerce funded a large Turkish delegation comprising representatives from the food, furniture, and technology industries. The delegation visited Israel with the aim of fostering trade ties between the two countries. However, with the recent trade restrictions, such cooperative efforts are likely to face significant challenges.
As both nations navigate the complexities of their strained relations, the economic repercussions of Turkey’s decision to exclude Israel from its list of export destination countries may further exacerbate tensions between the two nations.
Main article image credit: EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER