Israel and Turkey have yet to resolve their long-festering dispute over compensation to the victims of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, but that hasn’t stopped the two countries from doing thriving business.
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Israel’s Economy Ministry said Thursday that exports to Turkey were running ahead of 2013’s record level, with the figure climbing nearly 25% to $949.2 million in the first four months of the year. Imports from Turkey grew to $956 million, a 21% increase from the same time last year.
The increase comes after two-way trade jumped 39% to a record $48.5 billion in 2013. “Trade between Israel and Turkey is expected to break another record in 2014 if the trends of the first third of the year continue,” the ministry said.
Relations between the two countries have cooled since the Mavi Marmara incident in which nine Turks were killed by Israeli commandos. The two sides have failed to reach an agreement over compensation and other disputes.
Most of Israel’s exports to Turkey — some 70% — are chemicals, mainly from the companies Oil Refineries Ltd. and Carmel Olefins. Other big categories include plastics and rubber products, which amount to 9% of the total, and electrical equipment, which makes up 6.5%, the ministry said.
Israel’s imports from Turkey cover a much wider range of products that include plastics and rubber, minerals, textiles, concrete, asbestos, ceramics, glass machinery and cars.
The ministry’s economic attaché in Istanbul has been working to encourage trade; together with Israel’s semi-governmental Export Institute he organized a visit by six Israeli medical-device companies to Turkey three months ago to show their products to Istanbul hospital directors.
In May, a delegation of Turkish companies came to the MIXiii conference, Israel’s premier event for the high-tech industry.
“Trade relations between Israel and Turkey are growing steadily,” said Ehud Cohen, head of the foreign trade desk at the Economy Ministry. “The Foreign Trade Administration aims to increase exports to Turkey and encourage Turkish investment in Israel.”