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Turkey conducts non-contact foreign trade against virus

Trucks change drivers in borders to stem spread of novel coronavirus, trade minister says

By Merve Ozlem Cakir   | 27.03.2020
Turkey conducts non-contact foreign trade against virus


Turkey launched non-contact foreign trade to stem the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the country's trade minister said on Friday.

The country has closed all borders as of the beginning of March against the novel coronavirus outbreak to prevent its spread in Turkey, Ruhsar Pekcan reminded.

Despite all measures, the first COVID-19 case has appeared in the country on March 10.

After closure of Iraqi borders, the Turkish Trade Ministry focused on non-contact foreign trade studies to continue the country's exports and imports.

Currently, Turkish drivers carry trucks until border crossings, and foreign drivers then receive the trucks to transport the containers abroad, Pekcan expressed.

She added: "The vehicles are disinfected when they arrive at our buffer zone before our drivers take them over".

"On this occasion, we are working to restore our trade with Iraq back to its earlier level."

She also said the work has started with hundreds of trucks but the number now reached to 1,140.

Drivers use a similar method along the European borders, she noted.

The country found another way to continue foreign trade with Iran, through railways.

Turkish locomotives carry loads until borders, and Iran's locomotives similarly take them from border crossings, she told.

She noted that Turkey's foreign trade was affected by the outbreak, falling by half with Iraq and 80% with Iran.

"There will be a drop in total foreign trade, but we are working to keep at the minimum level," she added.

Turkey has confirmed a total of 75 fatalities from the novel coronavirus, while the number of infected people reached 3,629, according to official figures late Thursday.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China, in December, the virus, has spread to at least 176 countries and regions, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The data shows more than 551,300 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll nearly 25,000, and over 127,500 recoveries.

* Writing and contributions by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul.

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