Turkey wants to improve trade ties with Egypt - minister

Turkey wants to boost trade ties with Egypt as it continues looking for ways to restore diplomatic relations, Reuters reported on Monday. 

Mehmet Mus, Turkey’s trade minister, said this was a goal ahead of an expected visit by a trade delegation to Egypt this week. This delegation is going to be led by deputy foreign minister Sedat Onel.

"Parallel to the developing diplomatic relations with Egypt, we want to strengthen our trade and economic ties in the coming period," Mus was quoted by Reuter as saying.

Reuters adds that despite the political frictions, Ankara says Cairo remains its biggest African trade partner, with the value of trade standing at $4.86 billion last year. This is only slightly down from where trade levels were in 2012, the year before the Egyptian coup that brought current President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to power. 

Turkey was a strong supporter of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood when it came to power in 2011 amid the Arab Spring. Relations nosedived after Sisi came to power, prompting Turkey to downgrade relations with Egypt. Disagreements over the years have mounted over Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean Sea. 

The biggest source of friction may remain Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherood. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a strong supporter of the movement, but Egypt considers it a terrorist organisation. 

Turkey has consistently talked up its willingness to rebuild ties with Egypt as part of a wider campaign of de-escalation in the its neighbourhood. Egypt’s foreign minister minister Sameh Shoukry spoke to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu last month, and Turkey has reportedly curtailed the activity of Egyptian opposition outlets within their borders. 

Cairo previously said that there would be no improvement unless stronger actions were taken by Ankara to resolve disagreements.