Israel’s Trade and Economic Mission plans to reopen in Istanbul next month, after a three-year hiatus caused by frayed relations between Turkey and the Jewish state, according to a Tuesday announcement by Israel’s economy minister.
Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry predicts that renewing Israel’s on-the-ground economic activity in Turkey will impact 1,540 Israeli companies who currently export goods and services to the Turkish market.
“The economic attaché plays a central role in deepening and strengthening economic relationships with Turkey – an important economic partner for Israel – by providing assistance and support for Israeli exports, by identifying and creating commercial opportunities and by significantly contributing to expanding bilateral trade,” said Israel Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivay. “The reopening of the economic attaché reflects Israel’s commitment to deepening economic ties with Israel. We intend to soon promote a joint economic conference between the countries, after more than a decade.”
Turkey was the fourth most important trading partner and the fifth most important export destination for Israel in 2021, the Israeli ministry stated.
Ohad Cohen, director of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy, said that Turkey is “a significant economy for Israel’s foreign trade. Today’s exports to Turkey are concentrated and there is great potential for expansion—the potential [is] inherent in the cooperation, for the benefit of the two countries.”
The Free Trade Agreement between the two countries went into force in 1997. Trade data shows that the mutual trade of goods and services between Israel and Turkey reached $7.7 billion in 2021, nearly a 30% increase from the year before.
Israel’s goods exports to Turkey last year stood at about $1.9 billion, comprising 34% of Israeli exports to Eurasia and other European countries, a near 30% increase from its $1.4 billion in exports in 2020. The exports mainly consist of chemicals, which constitute 52% of Israel’s total exports to the country; followed by base metals, 14%; and rubber and plastics, 10%.
Turkey's exports to Israel are 27% base metals, 11% machinery, 9% transportation products and 7% fresh produce.
The decision to let the Israeli economic mission resume its activities is a result of positive diplomatic developments between the two countries in recent months.
In early March, Israeli President Isaac Herzog was welcomed in Ankara by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It was the first official visit by an Israeli leader to Turkey since 2008.
At the time, Erdoğan said that the two governments wanted to “accelerate and revive the political dialogue between the two countries, based on shared interest and respect [for] mutual delicacies.”
Then, in late May, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with then-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Israel. Lapid flew to Turkey a few weeks ago to thank local authorities for their efforts in foiling Iranian attacks against Israelis abroad.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.