Refined petroleum exporters to be hit hardest from Turkey

Businessmen not worried, say Israel knows well how to do business with countries even without official trade relations.

Zim Ship 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Zim Ship 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Exporters of refined petroleum products and chemicals are most vulnerable to damage from Turkey’s decision to suspend trade relations with Israel, the Israel Export Institute said Tuesday.
In 2010 the two industries accounted for around 10 percent of Israeli exports to Turkey, a share which grew to some 14% in the first half of this year.
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Export Institute Director Avi Hefetz said Tuesday that his organization is tracking developments and examining the impact Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s declaration will have on Israel exporters.
“From conversations with exporters, it has arisen that Turkish businesspeople are interested in continuing trade relations with Israel and recognize the importance of those relations to Turkey’s economy. I hope these circumstances don’t cause any damage to Israeli exporters. Turkey also has an interest in good trade relations with Israel,” Hefetz said in a press statement.
Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce President Uriel Lynn made similar comments, saying, “The relations between the Israeli and Turkish business communities are excellent and are based on solid foundations.”
He called on both governments to take steps to halt what he called a “dangerous escalation,” adding that it was not important which side makes the first move.
Manufacturers Association Director of Foreign Trade Dan Katarivas told The Jerusalem Post that the damage to exporters would not be as great as is being reported in some media, given that the Turkish ban is restricted only to military products and to trade at a governmental level.
Defense-related trade has shrunk over the past few years, while other trade has risen, he said. “In the course of the Marmara [flotilla] episode and the global [financial] crisis, we see that trade between Israel and Turkey has continued to grow. What this shows is that these two economies are a very good example of what is called complementary economies, which means that they know what to look for from us and we know what to look for from them.”
He added that in the past few months he has seen a maturation in both business sectors “who know how to differentiate between politics and the business.”
“We estimate that very few [exporters] will be influenced by the political tensions.
There is no doubt that it is easier to do business with a country with which there is a positive political atmosphere, but to our great fortune, Israeli businesspeople know how to work with countries with which we have poor relations, or with which relations are not always the best.”
Turkey is Israel’s seventh-largest trading partner, according to the Israel Export Institute. Against the backdrop of ongoing tensions between the two countries, bilateral trade continued to grow rapidly at the beginning of 2011, totaling $2.4 billion in the first half of the year.
In 2010 total bilateral trade grew to $3.1 billion, up 26% from the $2.5 billion recorded the previous year. Exports grew last year by 21% to $1.30 billion, while imports grew by 30% to $1.80 billion.