Turkish exporters complaining of new customs delays in Morocco, Algeria

Turkish companies are faced with new delays in recent weeks in clothing exports in a few North African countries, Reuters reported on Tuesday, sparking concerns for the country already facing an informal boycott of its goods by regional rival Saudi Arabia.

In Morocco and Algeria, the unusual requests for paperwork and delays are leading to up to five times the average in clearing customs, also extends to Algeria, Reuters said, citing three sector groups from Turkey.

The complaints coincide with an attempt by textile and clothing manufacturers in North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe to take advantage of the disruption to global supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic as big European brands eye production hubs - such as Turkey and Morocco - that are closer to the continent than China.

The Moroccan government approved last week an amendment of the Morocco-Turkey Free Trade Agreement, increasing tariffs by up to 90 percent on 1200 Turkish goods for a five-year period.

Morocco had been threatening to walk out of the agreement since last year over complaints that while Turkish products have flooded into Moroccan markets as a result of the deal, Ankara continued to impose rigid obstacles before Turkey-bound Moroccan products. 

Morocco has long imposed the highest legal duties on Turkish imports in order to support domestic production, Reuters cited, Giyasettin Eyyupkoca, head of Turkey’s Laleli Industry and Business Association, as saying. 

But exporters in recent months have faced “unofficial and undocumented” delays at the border, including 10-12 days to clear our goods through customs, instead of the usual 48 hours, he said.

“North African countries are trying to keep Turkey out of the game as European brands re-organise away from China after the pandemic,” Hadi Karasu, head of the Turkish Clothing Manufacturers’ Association, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Turkish business groups last week urged Saudi Arabia to take action in improving trade relations amid ongoing problems facing the companies in doing business with the Gulf nation.

The kingdom has maintained an over year-long informal boycott of imports from Turkey.