Turkish exports to Iraq fall 35 percent, but minister preserves optimism
Drivers wait at Habur customs gate between Turkey and Iraq. The drop in exports has reached 35 percent, Turkish Economy Minister said.Turkey’s exports to Iraq have plummeted by 35 percent since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized control of Mosul, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said, expressing hope that some of this loss will be recovered by the end of the year.
Answering questions from reporters during a meeting with the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) in Ankara, the minister said Turkey had sent $854.7 million in goods to Iraq between June 10, the day ISIL captured Mosul, and July 20, marking a 35 percent drop compared to the same period last year.
Iraq has become one of Turkey’s closest trade allies in recent years, as Ankara seeks to diversify its trade away from its traditional dependence on Europe while Baghdad rebuilds its economy after decades of war and sanctions.
Turkey’s trade relationship with Iraq was dealt a blow following the escalating security fears that were triggered when ISIL militants captured Mosul.
In his remarks on July 22, Zeybekci said the continuing decline in exports to Iraq would create a $2.5 billion loss by the end of the year, but stressed that “we foresee this retreat to slow by the year-end.”
“We expect and foresee that exports to northern Iraq will start to recover and that the delayed orders will continue to grow [by the end of the year],” he said.
Zeybekçi added that he has been holding talks with the management of the TİM as well as several business organizations and exporters since the outbreak of violence in Iraq.
“As a government, we are concerned, but these concerns have been removed to a great extent following our meetings with business groups… [They] know the dynamics of the region and they have very high expectations in the near future,” he said.