Trade between Qatar and Turkey is estimated to have topped the $2bn mark in 2018, a 54 percent jump compared to the previous year, a Turkish official said.
Speaking at a Turkish trade expo that kicked off in Doha on Wednesday, Deputy Finance Minister Osman Dincbas said Qatar was one of the fastest growing areas of trade for Turkey in 2018, and the $2bn figure was expected to grow.
Since the launch of the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar in June 2017, Ankara has emerged as one of Doha’s top trading partners, sending additional troops, food, and other products to shore up the Gulf state’s needs.
The blockading quartet – consisting of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain – accused Doha of supporting terrorism and siding with Iran, accusations Qatar has categorically denied.
Qatar last year pledged a $15bn package of economic projects, investments and deposits for Turkey that included an up to $3bn currency swap to firm up the country’s battered currency, the lira.
Dincbas said “a portion” of the $15bn had so far arrived but declined to specify how much or in what form.
Qatar-Turkey trade volume for the first 10 months of 2018, the latest data available, indicates $1.7bn of total trade – higher than the $1.3bn in all of 2017, a Turkish trade official said.
That figure includes goods such as Turkish food and building materials to Qatar, and Qatari liquefied natural gas and aluminium to Turkey.
Abu Issa Holdings, one of the largest distributors and retailers of supermarket goods in Qatar, has seen its Turkish brands mushroom to about 25 percent of its portfolio from about 10 percent before the boycott, CEO Ashraf Abu Issa said.
At the expo, Abu Issa showcased Turkish honey and pasta introduced after the boycott that he said have become top sellers in Qatar, replacing Saudi and Emirati brands that once crowded shelves in Doha.
Others, such as Kingspan, an importer of Turkish insulated panels for warehouses and cold storage, said volume nearly doubled last year.
Abu Issa said he would stick with Turkish brands that have become popular even if the boycott were lifted, despite higher shipping costs.
“We will continue with Turkey for sure. They are not a replacement. This should have happened a long time ago. We discovered some amazing products and the quality is superior to what we would get from there,” he said, referring to the blockading nations.