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Saudi Govt Lifts Ban on Turkish Poultry Imports

by 5m Editor
5 January 2012, at 7:15am

SAUDI ARABIA & TURKEY - After almost seven years, Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on Turkish poultry imports that was put in place after a bird flu epidemic in 2005.

The government began to allow Turkish products to enter Saudi Arabia after a delegation of Saudi inspectors returned with a positive report on Turkey’s poultry industry. The decision also came on the heels of a visit by Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan to Saudi Arabia in late December.

Speaking to Today's Zaman in the Saudi capital, Selim Paslı, the trade counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Riyadh, said the Saudi delegation inspected the production facilities of a number of leading Turkish companies, including Banvit, Keskinoğlu, Beypiliç, Şeker Piliç, Lezitta and Mudurnu, in April of last year, but the necessary procedures for the removal of the ban took a little longer, so the decision was delayed until this year.

Saudi Arabia imports some $1 billion of frozen chicken per year. Visiting the country before the ban was lifted, Mr Çağlayan raised one issue at a meeting he attended in Riyadh. "You are buying chicken from Brazil. Isn’t it better to eat chicken slaughtered by a Muslim?" he asked Saudi government officials. Some 100 Turkish businessmen accompanied the minister on his trip.

Turkey’s trade volume with Saudi Arabia was $5.5 billion in 2008 before contracting 37 per cent in 2009 due to a global financial crisis. It increased 30 per cent in 2010, reaching $4.5 billion. According to most recent foreign trade data available, this volume had already reached $5.1 billion in the first 10 months of last year.

In his visit, Mr Çağlayan said he expects trade between the two countries to reach $6 billion in 2012 and put $20 billion as the target volume without specifying a time limit, stressing that he wants to see a bigger share of Turkish products in Saudi Arabia’s imports, which total some $125 billion. Turkey is also courting Saudi Arabia to lobby for a speedy conclusion of ongoing negotiations to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).