TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci on Saturday was in Tehran where he was expected to discuss using Iran’s land route to facilitate trade with Qatar, Anadolu quoted him as saying.
"We're thinking about alternatives for land trade routes with Qatar but the easiest way is passing through Iran," Zeybekci said, according to the news agency.
He traveled to Tehran to attend the swearing-in of President Hassan Rouhani along with delegates from around the world. It was not immediately clear who was representing Qatar in the ceremony.
Turkey has used a land, air and sea blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to flood the tiny peninsula in the Persian Gulf with its goods but Zeybekci said using cargo planes to carry products was not sustainable.
"We want to make it economic, sustainable and reliable," he said, adding shipments by sea will gain importance.
“We foresee that at least four large tonnage ships would go to Qatar monthly but the land route is an alternative for carrying flexible and smaller packages," Zeybekci said.
According to Turkish media reports, Turkey's exports to Qatar totaled $52.4 million in June from $36.2 million a month earlier.
Doha with its mostly foreign population of 2.6 million relies on Persian Gulf neighbors for 80 percent of food imports. However, its fierce spat with the Saudi-led quartet has prompted the country to accelerate relationship with Iran and Turkey which have said they are happy to help to compensate for the boycott and stave off shortages.
Qatar and Iran share management of the world's largest gas field, South Pars, in the Persian Gulf.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said last month that his country needed a healthy and constructive relationship with neighboring Iran as opposed to demands by Saudi Arabia and its allies that Doha downgrade ties with Tehran.
Iran acted quickly as soon as the spat began, sending several planeloads and ships of food and other commodities across the Persian Gulf to Qatar. However, Turkey has overtaken Iran in replenishing the stocks in the Arab country.
"We want to meet all of Qatar's needs. We want all goods providers in Turkey to sell products, including cleaning materials, domestic appliances and textile, in Qatar," Zeybekci said.