Turkey may be looking for a way to ease its economic turmoil by wooing Egypt for more bilateral trade and business. Egyptian economists and Turkish affairs experts say Ankaras’ recent efforts to reset relations are aimed at counteracting its isolation from the European Union and a number of Arab countries.
There is some pacification on the Turkish side, but there is no rapprochement, Karam Said, an expert on Turkish affairs at Al-Ahram Center for political and strategic studies, told Al-Monitor.
On March 8, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogans spokesman Ibrahim Kalin spoke of Ankaras’ wish to turn a new leaf with Egypt.
Earlier, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said his country had many historical and cultural values in common with Egypt.
The recent Turkish approach indicates that there could be good developments in the near future. However, the Turkish authorities have made no clear statement regarding all the disputes. Turkish statements are just sweet and friendly, but they do not address the crux of the matter or address the root cause of the disagreements, Said said.
However, when it comes to business, the situation is different as the flow of trade has continued since the June 30 revolution that ended the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 2013.
The business community of both countries has kept bilateral trade intact. Turkish investments in Egypt, currently estimated at $ 2.5 billion, have remained the same, he said.
Turkey was the fifth largest exporter to Egypt in 2020, accounting for 5% of the total imports of the most populous Arab countries, datathe Cabinet Media Information Center lounge.
Egypt’s exports to Turkey totaled more than$ 1.6 billionin 2020, compared to more than $ 1.7 billion a year earlier, according to the government Central agencyfor public mobilization and statistics ().
Meanwhile, Egypt’s imports from Turkey fell by $ 405 millionto $ 3.1 billion in 2020, according to the statistical agency.
Egypt’s total imports and exports fell to $ 27.6 billion and $ 69.6 billion respectively in 2020, from $ 30.5 billion and $ 76.4 billion in 2019, according to thestatistics agency; the repercussions of the coronavirus cast a shadow over the foreign trade of Egyptians in general.
Turkish and Egyptian businessmen agreed to separate business from politics.
Turkey has already lost a number of Arab markets such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Ankara has had political and economic tensions with the European Union and the United States. Egypt remained a large market with great potential for Turkey. From a pragmatic point of view, Ankara wants to maintain the status quo, Said said.
He said the prospects for bilateral trade will depend heavily on how the two countries view the future of economic cooperation.
For Turkey, Egypt is a gateway to the Arab and African markets. This could be common ground for companies of the future. In my opinion, a rapprochement would speed up joint investments and lead to a qualitative leap in bilateral trade, he said, noting that Turkish investors could increase their business portfolios in Egypt.
Trade between Arab countries and Turkey amounted to $ 22.4 billion in 2020, said Ahmed Goweily, secretary general of the Council for Arab Economic Unity.
He was quoted as saying by theAl-Mal every day saying that Turkish exports to Arab countries amounted to $ 14.5 billion and Turkey’s imports from Arab countries amounted to $ 7.9 billion.
Turkey is betting on the approach of African markets via Egypt. This could open up win-win opportunities for both countries, he said.
Rashad Abdo, head of the Egyptian Forum for Economic and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor that investing is pragmatic and sees no borders. Therefore, businessmen kept trade and investment on track. However, the Turkish economy has been in the doldrums in recent years due to the mismanagement of the Erdogans with the withdrawal of many investors.
Abdo said that politics and economics are two sides of the same coin, where a good economy reflects a good policy and vice versa. Fitch Ratings said on February 21 that sanctions and other geopolitical risks continue to weigh on Turkey’s rating.
With the crash of the read after the [March 20] sacking of turkeys central bank governor, Ankara seeks to stimulate exports by opening up new markets. The Turkish economy relies heavily on exports and tourism. For Turkey, new markets are essential, especially as many countries in the Gulf region have reduced bilateral trade on the back of Ankaras’ hostile policies, Abdo said.
Turkey exports fell 6.3% to $ 169.5 billion in 2020, state news agency says Anadolu Agency. The country’s trade deficit jumped 69.1% to nearly $ 50 billion. Turkey’s foreign direct investment inflows decreased by 16.5%to $ 7.7 billion in 2020, the Anadolu agency said on Feb.15.
Turkey’s hard currency earnings have significantly decreased thanks to the EU and American sanctions. Courting Egypt and the Arab world is an attempt to loosen Ankara’s noose, Abdo added.
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