Reflecting growing economic ties between Israel and Turkey, Israeli auto importer Alon Group recently signed a deal with Turkish minibus manufacturer Sabanci.

Israel’s Alon Group signed a major business deal Turkey’s Sabanci Group, one of the biggest bus manufacturers in Europe. Under the agreement, the Alon Group will import hundreds of buses to Israel that are manufactured by an affiliate of the Sabanci Group. The firstminibus marketed in Israel will be the MD9, winner of the Bus of the Year competition in Belgium and known for its fuel-efficiency and excellent maneuvering in city traffic.

According to Yossi Noiman, CEO of Alon Group, overtures of peace between Israel and Turkey helped in negotiating the transaction. “The reconciliation gave the two sides the comfort to strike the deal,” he says. “The Turkish product is considered to be of high-quality and is only sold in Europe.” Turkish-Israeli business relations suffered a set-back in the wake of the Mavi Marmara affair and the subsequent tension between the two countries.


With hope for warmer relations between the two countries, Turkish-Israeli economic ties are also on the upswing. The subject was  discussed recently when President of the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel Zvi Oren, met in Istanbul with President of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) Muharrem Yılmaz to strategize improving Israeli-Turkish economic relations. During the visit they discussed ways to strengthen business ties and Israeli tourism to Turkey, Oren reports, adding that they also agreed to set up a committee whose first task is to improve agricultural, energy, and communications cooperation and to exchange “mutual trade delegations.”

Indeed, exports of Israeli goods to Turkey have reached a new high, according to economists at the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute (EICI). Turkey now ranks as Israel’s fourth top export destination, up from number six last year. “Economic relations are a foundation for good relations in general,” says EICI Chairman Ramzi Gabbay  “An example is Egypt, where we see that the economy is also a basis for dialogue on other things. The economic relations with Turkey were maintained during the conflict as well, because business is good for both sides.”

The rise in exports, Gabbay adds, is most dramatic in the oil distillates industry, with growth expected in machinery, plastic and rubber exports, as well as agriculture and food exports

By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel