Turkey Clarifies: Trade Sanctions Against Israel Include Only Defense Industry

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, aide to Turkey PM Erdogan clarifies earlier remarks by the Turkish premier, according to which all trade with Israel would be suspended.

Turkey's economic sanctions against Israel include only trade between the two countries' defense industries and not trade in general, an aide to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. The clarification came hours after Erdogan announced a suspension of Israel-Turkey trade relations.

Erdogan said in his announcement that Turkey was "totally suspending" defense industry ties with Israel, after downgrading diplomatic relations.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan AP

"Trade ties, military ties, regarding defense industry ties, we are completely suspending them. This process will be followed by different measures," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Tuesday morning.

A spokesman for the Turkish PM told the Wall Street Journal a few hours later that these sanctions did not include general trade between the two countries, and rather referred only to defense goods "for now".

Ankara earlier this week launched a series of penalizing measures, including the severing of military ties, against Israel over the latter's refusal to apologize for its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in 2010.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer warned Monday that the consequences of a prolonged and broad trade rift with Turkey would be "expensive" for Israel, saying that that the Turkish economy far surpasses Israel's and is growing extremely fast.

"[The] Turkish economy is growing at an exceptional rate," said Fischer. "They have great entrepreneurs and a European trained labor force. Turkey will be a big market in the region and a major exporter. The consequences of not having trading relations with Turkey will be expensive."

"Inter-regional trade in the Middle East is small, and it will stay small even if it opens up," said Fischer. "Our intetregional trade does not amount to very much at the moment, but it would be of benefit if it grew."