The Egyptian government's decision not to renew a three-year transit-trade agreement with Turkey is the latest episode of an ongoing political feud between the two countries.
The Egyptian government has decided not to renew a three-year transit-trade agreement with Turkey, due to expire on 22 April 2015. The agreement – established in 2012 with the ousted Morsi government – allowed Turkish cargo trucks to arrive at the Egyptian towns of Alexandria and Port Said via ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off) ships and transit over land through to Egyptian ports in the Red Sea. From there, they would be carried, again via ro-ro, to the ports of Aqaba in Jordan and Duba in Saudi Arabia. This provided Turkish trucking companies an alternative to their original route through Syria to reach export destinations in the Persian Gulf, allowing them to circumvent the violence and disruption risks emerging from the ongoing civil war.
The "ro-ro line", frequented by an average of 10,000 Turkish trucks per year, raised transportation costs by around USD2,000 per truck, and increased travel time from approximately 10 to 30 days compared to the Syrian route. The line also faced sporadic interruptions; transit was interrupted for a whole month in June 2014 when the Egyptian ro-ro company transferring the Turkish trucks to and from Saudi Arabia ceased operations, leaving around 400 Turkish vehicles stranded on the two sides of the Red Sea.
Egypt's decision is the latest episode of an ongoing political feud between the two countries, which began with the Turkish government's vocal opposition to the coup d'état that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood government in July 2013. Cairo has criticised Turkey for what it calls "interference in Egypt's internal affairs", and since November 2013, diplomatic relations between the former allies are downgraded, with their respective ambassadors having been declared personae non gratae.
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