Israel can contribute in exporting high-tech to help Turkish agricultural field become much more modern, upgraded, say experts…
ANKARA / JERUSALEM
Although many analysts see energy partnership between Israel and Türkiye as key, some say ties can flourish further with cooperation in a host of other areas such as agricultural technology.
Amid normalization efforts between Ankara and Tel Aviv since last year, the two recently decided to fully restore diplomatic ties, and reappoint ambassadors after over four years, a move seen as lending new momentum to their long-strained ties.
Along with these developments the Türkiye-Israel Joint Economic Commission is also set to meet in early September, and Israel also announced in July that it had decided to reopen its economy and trade office in Türkiye, which it had closed during deteriorating political relations.
“I did not like the fact that all kind of diplomatic relations were on hold from both sides during the last 10 years or even more. However, on the economic and business level, we always had very good relations with Türkiye and it only keeps growing year after year,” Gad Shoshan, chairman of the Israel-Türkiye Business Council, told Anadolu Agency.
Despite the ups and downs of diplomatic relations in the last 10 years, the countries have managed to maintain trade relations at a relatively stable level.
Backed by the steel industry, Türkiye’s exports to Israel hit an all-time high in the first quarter of this year, soaring 37.2% year-on-year to $1.8 billion, according to Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) data.
Official figures also showed Türkiye’s exports to Israel last year rose more than 35% to $6.4 billion, an all-time high, while imports rose nearly 37% to $2.1 billion.
He said the reappointment of ambassadors on both sides will bring ties to a higher level.
“I think that the trade level is going far beyond what the normal person in the street understands and knows. It’s not only tourism from Israel to Türkiye or dry fruits from Türkiye to Israel, not at all, there’s much more,” he underlined.
Israel is Türkiye’s ninth-biggest export market, with both sides hoping to see trade volume this year reach $10 billion.
According to Shoshan major things should happen at the upcoming economic meeting to reestablish and reinstitute trade deals between the two.
“We have to review and update the free zones treaty, customs treaty, transportation and tourism treaty. I also want to see a lot of Turkish people coming to visit Israel. So the both also has to discuss the issues of visas and how to do it.”
Israeli high-tech in Turkish agriculture
Shoshan also said apart from traditional trade areas such as steel, chemistry, and automotive, there is a great collaboration potential in agricultural technology.
“I think Israel can contribute a lot in exporting agri-tech in very different areas of agriculture to help the Turkish agricultural field become much more modern and upgraded,” he said, adding that this area has been a bit neglected.
“But what I see that is starting now and I want to see much more is sophisticated high-tech agriculture,” he noted. “For example, utilizing drones for spraying against insects, as when you do it with drones you’re causing much less harm to the environment.”
He said there’s a company in northern Israel which developed a way with drones to generate much more food, and this allowed them to produce bumper crops.
“So this is kind of thing that can really help the Turkish market. Of course, utilization of smart greenhouses is also very important,” he added.
According to him, big Turkish companies can invest in high-tech in Israel, “not only by selling equipment, but actually investing in startups here.”
That will immediately also benefit the Turkish market, he underlined, adding that there is a lot of collaboration the sides can do in the area of water treatment and water purification as well.
Qualitative change in trade required
Israel is important for Türkiye, a country that needs technological renewal, especially in the green transformation process, said Guven Sak, managing director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Türkiye (TEPAV) .
He said the main problem in bilateral ties is that “always the same companies are buying and selling the same goods. In fact, there has not been such a qualitative change in our trade.”
“Therefore, the two need to reexamine their mutual relations within this framework,” he said. “But it’s something that requires deeper mutual trust than trade.”
Echoing Shoshan’s view, he also saw greater collaboration opportunities in agriculture, saying especially Türkiye can learn how Israel uses high-tech in agricultural activities.
It is also vital for the country to learn how to use less water in agriculture given the climate change-related hardships facing the region.
Sak also touched on tourism, saying more and more Israeli tourists should come to visit Türkiye. “I think it’s about mutual trust as well.”