ISTANBUL - Turkey is weighing new transport routes to the Middle East that will bypass Syria where increasing violence has caused a 10 percent drop in Turkish exports to Damascus over the past six weeks, Turkey's Economy Minister said on Thursday.
Turkey is Syria's largest trading partner with bilateral trade worth $2.5 billion in 2010, and investments by Turkish firms in Syria reaching $260 million, Turkish data shows.
Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, who was meeting business leaders in Istanbul to discuss developments in Syria, said while exports to Syria had increased in the first nine months of 2011, October and November figures had shown a drop.
"We are looking at transport routes to the Middle East and Gulf countries via Syria. In this respect we are working to identify alternative routes. We will visit Egypt's Safaga port and other regional ports next week," Caglayan said at the start of the meeting.