DUBAI (Reuters) - The value of Saudi Arabia’s imports from Turkey in December dropped to their lowest level in at least a year, Saudi official data showed on Wednesday, on the back of an informal boycott by Saudi businessmen and retailers of Turkish products.
Political tensions spilled over into trade between the two regional powers last year after the kingdom’s biggest supermarket chains said they backed a boycott of Turkish imports that had been proposed by business leaders and Saudi social media influencers.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been at loggerheads since the 2011 uprisings across the Arab world when Riyadh accused Ankara of supporting Islamist political groups. Tensions escalated in 2018 over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
Imports from Turkey amounted to 50.6 million riyals ($13.5 million) in December, down from 182.2 million riyals in November, and from 1.06 billion riyals in December 2019, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics.
The December value was the lowest in at least one year.
Turkey dropped from being the 11th country by imports to Saudi Arabia in December 2019 to being the 58th in December 2020, the data showed. The decrease in the value of Turkish imports intensified from September.
In November, Saudi Arabia formally suspended imports of meat, eggs and other products from Turkey, the Turkish exporters’ union said.
The Saudi government has said the authorities have not placed any restrictions on Turkish goods.
Saudi Arabia’s overall value of imports in December was down 12% from a year earlier due to a drop in vehicle imports and associated transport equipment by nearly a quarter and an almost one-fifth fall in products from chemical or allied industries.
China ranked first in December, with imports to Saudi Arabia worth nearly 9 billion riyals, followed by the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Louise Heavens and Edmund Blair