Booming ties led to over 60 pct rise in Turkey's exports to Qatar in 2018

Turkey's exports to Qatar stood at $1 billion in 2018, an increase of 62 percent compared to the previous year, Ambassador to Qatar Fikret Özer said, adding this figure is expected to reach $1.5 billion in 2019.

Exports to Qatar stood at $630 million in 2017, according to Turkish Exporters' Assembly (TİM) data.

Relations between Turkey and Qatar have improved in every area, achieving almost a perfect level in politics, Özer was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency (AA).

Ankara has emerged as one of Qatar's top partners since a Saudi Arabia-led bloc launched a trade and diplomatic boycott of the tiny Gulf state in 2017, providing increased support to Qatar, boosting food and other exports to shore up Qatar's needs just after it began.

Fraternal ties between the two allies also gained significant momentum after the failed coup attempt in the summer of 2016, during which Qatar showed strong support. In June 2017, a handful of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the tiny Gulf country, accusing it of supporting terrorism. The Qatari government denied the accusation, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.

The trade between the two countries saw a significant rise in that period, while the two countries also agreed on various projects for the coming period.

Since the two countries have followed a parallel course in their view of world issues, Özer said not just politics but also economic relations have gradually increased.

The ambassador noted that Qatar's exports to Turkey also increased in this period, stressing that the trade volume between the two countries exceeded $2 billion. "This figure was $1.3 billion in 2017, half of which were our exports. We sell all kinds of goods from Turkey both in diversity and quantity," he added.

He indicated that liquefied natural gas (LNG) leads the way in products imported from Qatar, followed by petrochemicals, fertilizer and aluminum.

Özer recalled the two countries held the fourth Meeting of the Turkey-Qatar High Strategic Committee at Vahdettin Mansion in Istanbul on Nov. 26, 2018, with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, followed by the signing of an agreement to facilitate trade between the two countries, adding they had previously aimed to make such an agreement with all Gulf countries.

The ambassador highlighted that Qatar signed an agreement to facilitate trade with Turkey for the first time, saying this agreement will pave the way for the removal of many taxes, reduction in procedures and facilitation of exports. "I hope our exports, which stood at $1 billion last year, will reach $1.5 billion in 2019."

Özer noted that Qatar supported Turkey during the treacherous coup attempt on July 15, followed by Al Thani's visit to Turkey.

On the other hand, he said, Erdoğan stood by Qatar without hesitation after the blockade against this country, underlining that Turkey has always taken sides with the oppressed and that they have stood by Qatar against persecution as well.

Suggesting that Turkey would do the same for any other Gulf state in the same situation, Ambassador Özer said: "The people of Qatar love the Turkish people. When you say you are Turkish on the streets, you will see that people smile at you." He added Qatari people say they are also treated well when they visit Turkey.

Özer said Turkey has invested in countries like Britain, France and the U.S. in recent years and attracted interest in this regard, adding Qatar has invested up to $22 billion-$23 billion in Turkey in a short time.

Reporting that foreign investors are sometimes exploited by some malicious people in Turkey and that some Qatari investors may face unfavorable situations in residential sales, Özer also elaborated on the speculative attacks against Turkey in August 2018, saying: "After the financial attacks, many Qatari investors came to me, asking in what area they should invest and help Turkey. They are well-intentioned."

Last year Qatar pledged a $15 billion package of economic projects, investments and deposits for Turkey that included up to $3 billion in a currency swap to firm up the Turkish lira.

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