TODAY’S – Trade with Israel in full swing, hits $5 bln

Trade with Israel in full swing, hits $5 blnTurkey’s mutual trade volume with Israel is expected to reached over $5 billion this year, the government said on Tuesday, representing a nearly 50 percent rise over 2009.Mutual trade volume was $3.

4 billion in 2009.“We have a balanced trade with Israel our mutual trade volume has reached $5 billion,” Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybeki said on Tuesday in Ankara The minister’s statements come on the heels of opposition calls on the government to revise trade ties with Israel in response to ongoing bloodshed following Israeli air, naval and ground strikes in Gaza Zeybeki said much of Turkish sales to Gaza and the West Bank also go through Israeli customs.

When criticism over Turkey’s growing trade ties with Israel first surfaced two weeks ago, some government figures rushed to deny a boost in trade with Israel. Figures, however, show Turkey and Israel are enjoying a boom in mutual trade, especially after the deadly Mavi Marmara attack in 2010 which nearly brought diplomatic ties to a halt.

Figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) indicate that exports from Turkey to Israel doubled between 2004 and 2013. Common exports included iron and steel, electrical machinery, vehicles, minerals and textiles.

Turkey sold goods worth a total of $2.65 billion to Israel in 2013.

This was 17 percent of Turkey’s total $151.8 billion in exports in 2013.

According to data from the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade, imports from Israel increased by 35 times from 2004 to reach $2.4 billion last yearKurdish oil sent to Israeli port Ankara’s alleged involvement in crude oil supply to Israel is also being scrutinized.

A report published on the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Tuesday said an oil tanker, United Emblem, loaded with a $100 million in cargo set sail from Turkey’s Ceyhan port in late May. After zigzagging in the Mediterranean the tanker met another tanker, the SCF Altai, off the Malta coast.

The United Emblem transferred its crude to the Altai, which eventually brought the Kurdish oil to Israel’s Ashkelon port on June 22. According to WSJ, Baghdad, which objects to third parties being involved in selling Kurdish oil on international markets, had nothing to do with the transaction after the crude reached Ashkelon because it had no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Iraq’s Kurds have prospered since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, while ruling themselves under a settlement under which all Iraqi oil was sold by the government in Baghdad, and the Kurdish region was given a fixed percentage of the total income.A report from the AydInlIk daily entitled “Israeli planes using fuel from Tayyip to strike Gaza” was released earlier this month, alleging that Turkey had exported jet fuel to Israel.

Energy Minister Taner YIldIz subsequently rejected the claim, saying that Turkey had made no such exports.“As the Turkish Republic, we have not sold Israel any sort of oil or jet fuel.

We have transit sales that are conducted with other firms and other countries the oil that is shipped through BTC (the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline) goes to those countries,” said YIldIz.However, recently released figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) indicate that Turkey did in fact export 124 tons of jet fuel to Israel during the month of March.

A report in the daily Taraf on Monday claimed that SOCAR, an Azerbaijani firm that owns 50 percent of the pro-government daily Star, has been selling Azerbaijani oil to Israel via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.A recent article by energy expert TuIce Varol Sevim claimed that nearly 30 percent of Israel’s oil needs are met via shipments sent through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

Document reveals arms purchase from IsraelFormer National Defense Undersecretary Murat Bayar stated in April of 2011 that Turkey was no longer purchasing arms from Israel, and that Turkey had weapons-purchasing arrangements from several other countries but Israel was no longer among themHowever, a document sent from the Turkish Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) to the Turkish Chamber of Shipping (DTO) dated September 3 of last year revealed that an order of more than 31,000 rounds of tank ammunition was to be sent from Israel’s Haifa port to Istanbul.Israel Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Organization President General Aiveli told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last year that weapons exports to Turkey had never completely halted.

Turkey has been known for purchasing defense systems technology from Israel, purchasing dozens of F4 modernization and radar systems from Israel costing hundreds of millions of dollars. In another purchase, Turkey bought 170 M60 tank modernization units at a cost of $680 million.

In 2005, Turkey purchased 10 Heron aerial vehicles from Israel at a total cost of $183 million.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman