Saudi Arabia’s imports from Turkey all but dried up in December, data from the Saudi statistics authority showed, reinforcing Turkish businespeople’s claims that they’ve been subjected to an unofficial boycott.
Imports from Turkey totaled 50.6 million riyals ($13.5 million), down 95% from 1.02 billion riyals in December 2019. That’s the lowest since the kingdom started compiling monthly figures in 2016.
The Turkish statistics agency posted a 78% drop in Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia in December 2020.
While some of the decline can be traced to the coronavirus pandemic, the countries have different views on the role of their shared dominant religion, Islam, in politics. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan champions Islam as a foundation for a popular political movement while Gulf monarchies fear it could erode their authority.
Relations soured further after the 2018 murder of Saudi government critic Jamal Khasshoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Exports in the Arab world’s largest economy rose 12% in the fourth quarter from the previous three months as global trade showed signs of rebound from the pandemic. They were down 26% to 180.8 billion riyals from a year earlier.
More from the General Authority for Statistics:
- Oil exports decreased 34% to 63.3 billion riyals.
- Share of oil exports in total exports dropped to 68% from 76.5% on an annual basis
- Non-oil exports were at 57.9 billion riyals from 57.3 billion riyals
- Imports stood at 134 billion riyals versus 145 billion riyals.
- China was the top destination for Saudi exports, followed by Japan and India.