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Turkish Exports To Iran Dropped By $1.5b In 2019, Turkish Trade Minister Says

Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekan speaking to BloombergHT in Davos. January 23, 2020.

Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan on Thursday said sanctions on Iran, one of Turkey's major trade partners, have significantly affected Turkey's exports to the country. However, total Turkish exports in 2019 grew by more than 2% in comparison with the previous year.

Speaking to Turkish broadcaster BloombergHT on the sidelines of the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday the Turkish Trade Minister said exports worth around $1.5 billion have been affected by the embargo imposed on Iran.

Turkey criticizes U.S. sanctions against Iran and calls it a violation of international law but has complied with the sanctions.

According to an Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) report on November 1, Turkey's natural gas imports from Iran last August had nearly dropped to one-third compared with the same period in the previous year.

The report also said Turkey had not imported any crude oil from Iran since June 2019 because wavers for countries still buying oil from Iran, including Turkey, expired in May and were not renewed.

Turkish businesses are also hugely affected by U.S sanctions on Iran. The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security has put several Turkish companies on its blacklist, the Entity List, for allegedly diverting U.S. items to Iran without authorization.

Turkey's state-owned Halkbank is under prosecution in the U.S. ​for allegedly engaging in transactions on Iran's behalf including allowing Iran's revenues from oil and gas sales to be spent on gold, and facilitating sham purchases of food and medicine.

U.S. sanctions on Iran can also potentially affect Turkey's tourism, one of its major sources of income. Iranians are the fifth largest national group among Turkey’s foreign tourists and in the second spot among foreigners buying property in Turkey. More than 1.6 million Iranians visited Turkey from January to September 2019.