Conflict hits Syria trade

Conflict hits Syria trade

Conflict hits Syria trade

This file photo shows a store in Gaziantep selling carpets with faces of famous Turkish and foreign people. The carpet exports from the city are affected by high taxes.

Closing of the border with Syria has drastically hurt businesses, according to local merchants’ complaints in Gaziantep, an industrially developed province in southern Turkey. 

Trade with Syria has been the “bread and butter” of local merchants who sold products like women’s textiles, electric heaters, electric home appliances, cosmetic products and kitchen products to Syrians across the border. 

“Turkish products were very popular over there. We had very strong sales, but unfortunately now there are no longer any buyers,” said Kilis Chamber of Commerce Head Mehmet Özçiloğlu. “Our trade is totally dependent on Syria. With the severing of relations with Syria, our trade has come to a complete standstill. Border trade is very important. It’s the only source of income for local merchants,” he told Anatolia news agency. 

Carpets are the local export from the region, according to statistics from the Southeast Anatolian Exporters Union (GAİB). “Thirty percent of our total carpet exports were sent through Syria to countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Now only those who can afford the $1,500 transit fee per truck can send their carpets through Syria,” said Selahattin Kaplan, head of the Southeast Anatolian Carpet Exporters Union.

Local exporters were now forced to transport the carpets via ships which could take 10 days to a month longer than land transport, Kaplan said.

Turkey and Syria had nearly $2.5 billion in trade volume in the last year, according to official data. Trade between the two countries is badly affected by the ongoing political disputes. 

Two borders checkpoints out of six between Syria and Turkey were closed when the Daily News went to print yesterday evening.