Erdogan hints Turkey may ban some Israeli goods because of Gaza violence

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has hinted about a boycott of Israeli goods. (AP)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Erdogan hints Turkey may ban some Israeli goods because of Gaza violence

  • Erdogan is campaigning for re-election in June
  • Comments follow deaths in Gaza

President Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that Turkey might consider imposing a ban on imports of some Israeli goods over the killing of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces on the Gaza border, media reported on Tuesday.

Erdogan, who is campaigning for re-election in June, last week hosted Muslim leaders who condemned the events in Gaza and the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem.

Speaking to reporters on a return flight from Bosnia on Sunday, Erdogan said the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had recommended that a boycott be imposed on Israeli goods.

“I hope that OIC member countries implement a boycott decision in line with the recommendation. Consequently, no product should be brought from there any more. Naturally we will assess this situation in the same way,” Hurriyet newspaper reported Erdogan as saying.

A declaration by the OIC on Friday repeated a call for countries to ban “products of the illegal Israeli settlements from entering their markets,” referring to goods produced in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

It did not seek a ban on all Israeli goods.

The declaration also called for “economic restrictions (on) countries, officials, parliaments, companies or individuals” who followed the United States and moved their embassies to Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and shift the US embassy there reversed decades of US policy, upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.

Erdogan said last week that Trump’s move had emboldened Israel to put down the protests at the border with Gaza with excessive force, likening the actions of Israeli forces to Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews in World War Two, when millions were killed in concentration camps.

The violence in Gaza, where more than 60 Palestinians were killed on May 14 led to Turkey and Israel expelling each other’s senior diplomats. Erdogan also traded barbs on Twitter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel was the 10th-largest market for Turkish exports in 2017, buying some $3.4 billion of goods, according to IMF statistics.

Data from Turkey’s statistics institute showed that trade volume between the two was at $4.9 billion in 2017. Turkey, which has a trade surplus with Israel, imports plastics and mineral oils among other goods from there.

Erdogan said Turkey would reconsider its ties with Israel.

“We will put our relations on the table, in particular our economic and trade relations. We have an election ahead of us. After the election we will take our steps in this direction,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.


US tariffs trigger WTO spat escalation

Updated 6 min 1 sec ago
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US tariffs trigger WTO spat escalation

GENEVA: China, Russia and the European Union are among a string of countries asking the World Trade Organization to probe new US steel and aluminum tariffs, the world trade body said Friday.
Washington is meanwhile calling the WTO to investigate a number of retaliatory duties imposed by a range of countries, the agenda for the next meeting of the organization’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) showed.
The agenda for the DSB meeting set to be held on October 29 shows that the EU, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico, Norway and Turkey plan to ask for the creation of a panel of experts to review US President Donald Trump’s decision to hit them with tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
Marking a departure from a decades-long US-led drive for free trade, Trump has justified the steep tariffs with claims that massive flows of imports to the United States threaten national security.
The tariff spat has escalated into an all-out trade war between the US and China and growing trade tensions between Washington and many of its traditional allies.
The US is meanwhile planning to request that the DSB create another set of expert panels to review the legality of retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, Canada, the EU and Mexico.
The requests, which follow rounds of failed consultations, mark and escalation in an ongoing showdown at the WTO around Trump’s controversial trade policies.
Under WTO regulations, parties in a dispute can block a first request for the creation of an arbitration panel, but if the parties make a second request, it is all but guaranteed to go through.
“Once the panel is established and composed, the EU is ready to demonstrate that the United States’ import duties are WTO-inconsistent and to obtain a ruling that condemns the US and brings relief to the EU industry,” an EU Commission spokesperson said.
The creation of a DSB panel usually triggers a long and often costly legal battle that sometimes takes years to resolve.