Turkey, UK to intensify talks for post-Brexit free trade deal
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Turkey and the United Kingdom will intensify talks for a bilateral free trade agreement that would be implementable after Brexit, British Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott has said, adding that the future agreement will aim to create conditions to boost the level of bilateral trade.
“We are laying the groundwork now. We have created a bilateral trade working group that has met twice. I think the work of this group will intensify in the second half of this year,” Chilcott told reporters at a press conference on May 18.
The negotiations between Turkey and the U.K. on the free trade agreement will begin once London and Brussels have made progress on the future of U.K.-EU trade, he added. “We have to make progress with those before we can begin the parallel U.K.-Turkey free trade agreement talks. The objective is to cause as little disruption to trade as possible and to create the conditions post-Brexit for our bilateral trade to continue growing as it is now,” the ambassador said.
Accompanied by senior government officials, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a three-day visit to London last week, meeting Queen Elisabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May. Chilcott described the bilateral meetings as “successful and productive,” and in line with the strategic nature of Ankara-London ties.
The U.K. will leave the EU on March 30, 2019, which will place both countries in fairly similar position with regard to their relationship with continental Europe. Turkey and the U.K. have launched high-level political talks since the Brexit decision was taken in a referendum in 2016, also discussing ways to minimize the effect of Brexit on the $16 billion bilateral trade volume. The objective voiced by Erdoğan in London is to increase that volume to $20 billion.
“[Trade] is a very important component of our relationship. The aim of both governments is for our trade to not be disrupted by Brexit and to continue growing strongly as it has been doing,” Chilcott said.
He added that present arrangements for U.K.-EU trade are guaranteed to last until the end of 2020 and the two parties will need a new basis for trade after 2020.
“Because Turkey has a Customs Union [agreement] with the EU for goods, Turkey will be obliged to offer the U.K. access to the Turkish market for goods on the same basis as the future free trade agreement that the U.K. negotiates with the EU. But that does not provide for reciprocal access to the British market for Turkish goods. So we need to negotiate in parallel a free trade agreement with Turkey to ensure that Turkey’s access to the U.K. market remains as it is now, or indeed to possibly even increase access to each other’s markets,” Chilcott said.