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Palestine’s former economy chief highlights robust trade with Türkiye

Palestine’s former top economy official stressed a major surge in trade between his country and Türkiye, which reached over nearly $1 billion over the last five years.

Former Economy Minister Khaled al-Osaily underscored the pivotal role of Türkiye in bolstering bilateral commercial ties.

Al-Osaily, who had frequented Türkiye even before assuming office, emphasized the exceptional rapport between Palestinian authorities and Turkish counterparts, particularly lauding President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s steadfast support for Palestine’s cause.

He recalled Erdoğan’s powerful advocacy during a meeting involving 58 Islamic nations, where attention was drawn to the Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

During his tenure, trade between Palestine and Türkiye increased by an average of 15% per year over the past five years, he told Anadolu Agency (AA).

“If I compare 2020 with 2023, we have seen a 48% increase in trade. We have reached a trade volume of almost $1 billion between Palestine and Türkiye,” he said.

However, the official figures for trade between Türkiye and Palestine do not reflect the real volume, he noted.

“The official trade volume between Palestine and Türkiye is $1 billion. But the real figure is perhaps twice that. The reason for this is Israel’s insistence that the destination on the bill of landing be Israel,” he added.

“If it is written here as the West Bank or Palestine, an additional tax of about 12% has to be paid. Our importers write the destination as Israel in order to reduce the cost and try to compete. This is one of the reasons why these figures do not reflect the reality,” he said.

Palestine’s highest trade volume is with Israel due to the occupation, and Türkiye is Palestine’s number one trading partner after that.

He highlighted the visible presence of Turkish products in Palestinian markets, attributing it to his encouragement of Turkish businesses to establish franchises in Palestine during his tenure.

“If you go to any supermarket or retail store here, you will see that a large majority of the products are Turkish,” he said.

He praised the quality and affordability of Turkish goods, significantly impacting the local market.

Many Turkish brands can be seen in Palestine, he said, expressing satisfaction with the increase in relations with Türkiye during his tenure as a minister. He also said that he expects trade relations to increase further.

He said he had excellent relations with all the ministers in Türkiye during his tenure.

Regarding future prospects, al-Osaily expressed optimism, especially with initiatives like the potential increase in data exports to Türkiye and the completion of the Jenin Industrial Zone, offering Turkish companies advantageous investment opportunities.

Gaza market

Shedding light on Gaza’s economic woes, he said the Gaza market constitutes 40% of Palestine’s economy but suffers a 95% unemployment rate amid production declines and business closures.

Before the recent conflict, Gaza facilitated exports to the West Bank, but wartime disruptions exacerbated economic hardships, he said.

Explaining that cash flow and foreign exchange are limited due to the loss of most of the income, he said that Israel previously received 80% of the tax payments obtained from the import of products.

Moreover, stringent import licensing requirements, overseen by Israel, impede economic activities, compounding the region’s financial woes.

Goods must pass through Israel

All imported goods destined for Palestine must first transit through Israeli ports, resulting in prolonged delays and increased costs, he said.

“All imported products come to the Israeli port and pass through customs. So they have to come via Israel. Some products are checked by the Israeli standards authority, and for Israeli importers, this takes less than a day. This can take weeks for us. When it takes weeks, it becomes more expensive. “We cannot compete because we incur extra costs,” he said.

Al-Osaily highlighted bureaucratic hurdles, such as health certificate requirements and the mandate to list Israel as the final destination on cargo invoices.

Even Palestinian-Israeli citizens face similar obstacles when importing goods, necessitating adherence to Israeli regulations, he said.

However, al-Osaily praised Türkiye for granting exceptions to Palestine during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing essential imports and exports despite global restrictions.

The former minister emphasized Türkiye’s crucial role in facilitating trade, particularly in supplying vital health care products and medicines to Palestine, demonstrating unwavering support during challenging times.

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