Morocco places restrictions on Turkish goods by allegedly joining Saudi boycott

Earlier this month, the chief of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce, Ajlan Al-Ajlan, called for a boycott of "everything Turkish," including tourism, investment, and imports.

The flags of Morocco and Turkey.

A raft of limitations imposed by Morocco on Turkish goods has sharply severed economic ties between the two nations, while raising suspicions that Rabat has joined a Saudi-led unofficial boycott.

A market in Essaouira, Morocco. (Alamy)

On the 15th of October, Morocco placed constraints on products made in Turkey and Turkish supermarket chains, hiking taxes on imported Turkish goods by 90%.

The move last week came a day before Morocco’s cabinet ratified a review of the free trade agreement inked between the kingdom and Turkey in 2004, which Royal Court spokesman Abdul Haq al-Marini voiced would “correct the imbalances in the trade balance between the two nations in recent years.”

Morocco (orange) and Turkey (green) on a map.

According to Rabat, the accord with Ankara, in force since 2006, has caused the Moroccan economy to suffer monetary losses of nearly $2bn a year.

In January, the Moroccan Trade Minister Moulay Hafiz Elalamy informed the parliament that the country offered Turkey two options: either revise the accord and find solutions or see it end.

Moroccan Trade Minister Moulay Hafiz Elalamy.

Turkish exporters are already facing difficulties. Last year, the Middle East Eye revealed that Saudi Arabia had begun imposing an informal ban on Turkish goods, which this month hit the international fashion scene.

Consequently, Turkey has seen its overall exports fall by 20%.

A market in Morocco. (FADEL Senna/AFP)

Since January, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit doubled, following tax hikes and high tariffs at customs in Algeria and Morocco over perceived “unfair” competition from Turkish textile producers dominating the local market.

Earlier this month, the chief of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce, Ajlan Al-Ajlan, called for a boycott of “everything Turkish,” including tourism, investment, and imports.

Following the call, “Boycott Turkish products” began trending on social media, with several clothing suppliers choosing to relocate their operations outside Turkey. 

A shop in Saudi Arabia joins the boycott of Turkish products.

Many are hypothesizing that Morocco could have been convinced by Saudi Arabia to follow suit.

According to Moroccan analyst Ali Lmrabet, Morrocco’s sudden boycott is due to the pressure from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which present better economic partners for Morocco; but also from France, who is at odds with Ankara.

Morocco has been Turkey’s largest export market in North Africa, hauling in $2.24bn in 2019, according to the data from the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly.

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