Global fashion brands are bearing the brunt of rising regional rivalries with Saudi Arabia informally banning all imports of all products which are made in Turkey.
The issue was raised by Spanish retailer Mango, which is one of several US and European fashion companies with manufacturing facilities in Turkey. In a statement, the company said that “it is looking into alternatives to the slowing down of custom processes for products of Turkish origin in Saudi Arabia”.
Mustafa Gultepe, head of an exporters’ lobby group said that all retailers producing in Turkey and exporting to the Gulf state were affected. “We are talking about all global brands that have stores in Saudi Arabia, produce in Turkey and sell over there”.
While this policy has not been confirmed officially by Saudi authorities, Turkish exporters have complained that their products have faced long delays at Saudi customs over the past month. The problems have been viewed by businesses as an attempt by Riyadh and its close ally the United Arab Emirates to punish Ankara for what they deem to be its destabilising interventions in the Arab world.
The Saudi government said it had not “placed any restrictions on Turkish goods”, adding that trade between the two countries had not “witnessed any noticeable decline, except for the general impact of the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic”. $3.2bn Value of Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia last year.
Earlier this month, Ajlan al-Ajlan, the chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce, called for a boycott of “everything Turkish” in response “to the continued hostility of the Turkish government against our leadership, country and citizens”.
Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Middle East’s two biggest economies, have become more tense as they accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of meddling in Arab affairs and supporting Islamist groups
The two sides backed opposing factions in the civil war in Libya, where Turkey’s military intervention this year led to a string of defeats for the Gulf states’ Libyan proxy, General Khalifa Haftar.
Saudi Arabia has previously sought to use economic measures against governments to apply diplomatic pressure. In 2017, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi spearheaded a regional embargo against Qatar.