Ankara, London ‘very close’ to free trade deal:FM

Negotiations are going well and close to finalise soon, said minister

Turkey and the U.K. are “very close” to signing a free trade agreement for the post-Brexit era, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

An article on the Financial Times last week quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying negotiations between the two countries on a trade deal, covering manufactured goods, agriculture and services, were “going very well and we are close to finalizing it.”

Çavuşoğlu visited London to hold talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“If you look at the volume of our bilateral trade, 95% of it is industrial products … and 5% is agriculture and services,” the minister added.

U.K: Turkey’s second largest trading partner

The daily emphasized that the U.K. is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner after Germany, with a trade volume of 18.8 billion pounds ($23.7 billion). More than 2,500 British companies operate in Turkey, including BP, Shell, Vodafone, Unilever, BAE Systems, HSBC, Aviva and Diageo.

The U.K. has until the end of 2020 – a transition period during which it will remain an EU member in all but name – to hammer out a new trade deal with the EU. Any Turkey-U.K. free trade deal would only be able to take place following an EU-U.K. free trade deal, as Turkey is a member of the EU customs union.

 The deal between the U.K. and has yet to be finalized, as the latest round of talks went ahead last week in London.

Negotiation on two different deals

The FT article reported that if the two sides were unable to secure a deal by the year-end, Ankara could face a dilemma over whether to push ahead with the agreement with Britain and risk breaching EU rules.

“We agreed already with the U.K. that in the post-Brexit era we will increase our bilateral trade; in volume, we set a $20 billion (bilateral trade) target,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“We have been negotiating two separate agreements, one is the FTA (free trade agreement), one is similar to the Ankara Agreement,” noted Çavuşoğlu, referring to a visa scheme pact for Turkish businesspeople predating Britain joining the EU.

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