Turkey, UK sign free trade agreement

Turkey and the UK have Tuesday signed a free trade agreement as the latter formally leaves the European Union (EU) this week.

The deal was signed on Tuesday by Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan and British Ambassador to Ankara Dominick Chilcott, in virtual presence of UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, reports Xinhua news agency.

“This is a historic day for Turkish-UK relations. We are taking the first step toward further deepening our ties while maintaining 25-year gains from the Customs Union,” said Pekcan in a speech at the signing ceremony.

The deal will secure existing preferential tariffs for the 7,600 UK businesses that exported goods to Turkey in 2019, ensuring the continued tariff-free flow of goods and protecting vital supply chains in the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

The agreement will ensure preferential trading terms for UK businesses that exported more than 1 billion pounds worth of machinery, and iron and steel exports worth 575 million pounds to Turkey in 2019.

It also ensures UK businesses can continue to import under preferential tariffs, compared with no agreement.

The trade between Ankara and London were earlier subject to the regulations of Turkey’s Customs Union agreement signed with the EU in 1995.

“Today’s deal covers trade worth more than 18 billion pounds, delivers vital certainty for business and supports thousands of jobs across the UK in the manufacturing, automotive and steel industries,” Truss said.

“It paves the way for a new, more ambitious deal with Turkey in the near future, and is part of our plan to put the UK at the centre of a network of modern agreements with dynamic economies.

“More trade and investment will drive economic growth across our UK and help us build back stronger from Covid,” she added.

The bilateral trade between Turkey and UK, Turkey’s second largest export market, was worth $25.25 billion in 2019.

The UK’s investments in Turkey are nearly $11.6 billion.

London has signed trade agreements with dozens of countries ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1, 2021, when it leaves the EU’s trading arrangements.