Turkey aims for major defense export deal with Saudi Arabia

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Turkey hopes to sign a major defense export deal with Saudi Arabia, Defense Minister Fikri Işık recently revealed, describing the potential deal as one of the biggest for the country’s defense industry.

“We plan a deal with Saudi Arabia, which will be the largest export agreement of our defense industry,” Işık said at a conference for defense and aviation industry exporters in Ankara, as quoted by Reuters. 

He noted that Turkey hoped to reach an agreement over the deal soon, but he gave no further details.

“We should see that there have been some financing problems with our potential export markets. In a bid to overcome this, we have been working on a new system that is based on barter,” Işık added. 

He also stated that Turkey should “create strong medium-sized defense companies.” 

The most successful defense exporters of 2016 were awarded at the sector event, with TAI being given the top award.

Despite an 11.7 percent contraction in sales in the first quarter of 2017, Turkey’s defense and aviation industry has expanded its market to include a new range of countries as export destinations. According to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM), the country’s defense and aviation sector had registered exports worth $419.4 million in the first quarter of 2016. However, in the first three months this year exports experienced an 11.7 percent decrease to fall to $370.3 million.

Last year, Turkey’s defense and aviation sector had realized $118.6 million worth of exports in January, $136.6 million in February, and $164.2 million in March. This year, however, the export figures were around $100.3 million in January, $122.2 million in February, and $147.8 million in March. In the first quarter this year, the U.S. was the leading exports destination for Turkey with $167.3 million, followed by Germany with $57.7 million and Britain with $12.4 million.

During this period, while the sector showed a significant increase in performance towards some countries, new countries such as Rwanda, the Philippines and India were added to the existing list. While Turkey did not export to Rwanda in the first quarter of last year, about $10 million of equipment was sold in the same period of this year. In the first three months of 2017, Turkey also completed $4.5 million of exports to the Philippines, $5.2 million to Ireland, and $12 million to India.

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