ANKARA: Turkey seeks to strengthen political and economic relations with Gulf countries during a visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the region from Sunday through Wednesday. The long-running war in Syria and chaos in Iraq and other regional issues will be on Erdogan’s agenda as well as economic cooperation between Turkey, Bahrain, Saudi Arabi and Qatar, according to presidential sources.
The three-nation Gulf tour will be very important for the development of Turkey’s economic relations with these countries, according to Turkish business experts. The president will first head to Bahrain on Sunday and will stay there until Monday, when he will depart for Saudi Arabia. He is scheduled to visit Qatar on Tuesday and Wednesday. The economic relations between Turkey and Gulf countries, which have a high level of national income per capita in accordance with their petroleum and natural gas revenues, saw a significant development between 2007 and 2016 when diplomatic relations also improved, according to official data from TurkStat.
In the last 10 years, Turkey’s exports to these three countries totalled $33 billion. Considering the $53 billion foreign trade volume with these Gulf countries, Turkey had a $13 billion trade surplus in that period. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia became Turkey’s top export partner with $27 billion in the last decade followed by Qatar and Bahrain with $3.87 billion and $1.66 billion, respectively. In the same period, Turkey imported most from Saudi Arabia — $16.3 billion — while Qatar came second at $2.8 billion. Bahrain followed with $1.28 billion. Last year, the total trade volume between Turkey and these three countries was around $6.2 billion while Turkey’s exports amounted to $3.8 billion.