Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held the latest round of trade talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab this week during a visit to London

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu leaves after a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, United Kingdom on July 8, 2020.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu leaves after a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, United Kingdom on July 8, 2020. (AA)

Turkey and the UK are “very close” to signing a free trade agreement for the post-Brexit era, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

An article published by the Financial Times quoted Cavusoglu as saying negotiations between the two countries on a trade deal covering manufactured goods, agriculture, and services are “going very well and we are close to finalising it.”

Cavusoglu visited London on Wednesday to hold talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Negotiations gained speed after Britain’s exit from the EU on December 31, 2019. The UK is getting ready to sign trade deals with a few countries straight after the Brexit transition period, which is unlikely to be extended beyond the end of this year.

“If you look at the volume of our bilateral trade, 95 percent of it is industrial products, and we agreed on that ... and 5 percent is agriculture and services,” Cavusoglu said.

The UK is Turkey’s second-biggest trading partner after Germany with a trade volume of $23.7 billion, the Financial Times said. More than 2,500 UK companies are operating in Turkey, including BP, Shell, Vodafone, Unilever, BAE Systems, HSBC, Aviva and Diageo.

Turkey is a member of the EU customs union, meaning a deal with the UK “could be implemented only once Britain has secured an [exit] agreement with the European bloc”, the article said. 

The trade deal between the UK and has yet to be finalised, as the latest round of talks went ahead this week in London.

$20B bilateral trade target

“If the two sides are unable to secure a deal by the end of the year, Ankara could face a dilemma over whether to push ahead with the agreement with Britain and risk breaching EU rules. Mr Cavusoglu acknowledged that would be a 'bizarre situation',” the article said.

“We agreed already with the UK that in the post-Brexit era we will increase our bilateral trade; in volume we set a $20 billion [bilateral trade] target,” Cavusoglu said.

British officials from the UK’s Department for International Trade said talks are “progressing well” and that International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena will meet their Turkish counterparts next week for talks, the article said.

Immigration deal on the agenda

Cavusoglu said Ankara is looking to negotiate a separate immigration deal that would grant Turks special status when the UK implements new migration rules.

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

The foreign minister said that along with the bilateral trade pact, they discussed the future of the Ankara Agreement to prevent Turkish citizens from getting caught in any possible Brexit fallout.

Cavusoglu said during the meeting with Raab and Johnson on Wednesday that discussed relations in the post-coronavirus-pandemic era, a bilateral post-Brexit free trade agreement, cooperation in tourism, health tourism, and the defence industry, as well as other international and regional issues, including Libya, Syria and NATO.

In a briefing with Turkish reporters, Cavusoglu said that Turkey and the UK would cooperate in many fields after Brexit, adding that “even if the UK departs from the EU, it will continue to be one of the most important parts of the European continent”.

Source: AA