Trade between Egypt, Turkey faces deadlock
Güneş Kömürcüler ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
There are more than 350 large-volume land transportation vehicles in Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, and Turkish ports waiting to be loaded onto RO-RO ships, according to figures from an Istanbul-based transportation body. DAILY NEWS photoRoll-on/roll-off (RO-RO) services between the Mediterranean Turkish port of İskenderun and a number of Egyptian ports face setbacks due to recent developments in Egypt. The issue is of particular concern as RO-RO services have been of great significance for Turkey’s trade with the Middle East since 2011, when the Syrian unrest first emerged.
“Our RO-RO ship has been waiting off an Egyptian port for the last two days. There are 111 heavy vehicles on it. We hope they can approach the port by tomorrow, which would allow our all passengers to be transported to anywhere in Egypt and its neighboring countries as safely as possible,” Fatih Uzunçakır, the operations manager of Sisa Shipping, a Turkey-based shipping company which makes RO-RO trips between the two countries twice a week, told the Hürriyet Daily News in a telephone interview July 5.
There are more than 350 large-volume land transportation vehicles in Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, and Turkish ports waiting to be loaded onto RO-RO ships, according to figures from the Istanbul-based International Transporters Association (UND). RO-RO ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo such as cars, trucks, trailers and railroad cars, which are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels.
There are two companies that have been making RO-RO trips between Turkey and Egypt twice a week since 2012. UN RO-RO, another company that was making this trip, ended its trips before the beginning of this week, according to sector representatives.
“We will continue to make our trips unless the situation in Egypt becomes too bad, as there are many exporters and importers from Turkey, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, whose operations could be undertaken via our vessels,” Uzunçakır from Sisa Shipping said.
The RO-RO line was officially established between Turkey and Egypt, as a part of Turkey’s efforts to enable its exporters to reach their Middle East and North African markets after the Syria tension emerged and related security concerns affected land transportation for Turkish exports.
RO-RO line of great importance in trade
The trade volume between Turkey and Egypt reached $5 billion last year, with the RO-RO lines playing a considerable role in the bilateral trade.
While more than 105,750 land transportation vehicles carried goods from Turkey through Syria and on to the Middle East and North Africa in 2010, before the civil war broke out, the number of such vehicles has now plummeted by around 90 percent, according to UND figures.
“The RO-RO line is of great significance for Turkey in light of these figures. Turkey and Egypt have become like neighbors thanks to the RO-RO trips, which take only 20 hours,” said Alper Özel, vice chairperson of executive committee of the UND.
According to a bilateral transportation agreement signed in June between Turkey and Egypt, the two countries will be able conduct transportation without documents or any restrictions. “Egypt and its neighboring countries need to become safer,” a sector representative said.