London and Ankara will start negotiations on a more comprehensive trade pact next year, a British minister said Thursday, in a move designed to add new areas for stronger bilateral commercial cooperation.
Turkey and the U.K. signed a post-Brexit free trade agreement (FTA) in December last year to support a trade partnership worth over $25 billion (TL 209.42 billion). The deal became effective as of Jan. 1, when Britain formally left the European Union. It was Turkey’s most important trade deal since its 1995 Customs Union with the EU.
“Both the Turkish government and we believe that there is great potential to develop new areas to strengthen commercial cooperation,” said Graham Stuart, U.K.’s minister for exports.
“That’s why we will be negotiating a more comprehensive FTA next year,” Stuart told Anadolu Agency (AA), stressing the importance of the current deal for the ongoing bilateral trade.
Turkey's post-Brexit exports to the U.K. surged 36.5% from January through July of this year, according to Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) data.
They amounted to more than $6.95 billion, versus nearly $5.1 billion a year ago.
Stuart said the shipment among the two nations increased 70% over the last decade until 2019, pushing the volume to nearly 20 billion pounds ($27.48 billion).
Yet, the officials have been stressing an aim for a new and more ambitious agreement in the period to come. The current pact is expected to be expanded to include areas such as investments and services.
The post-Brexit FTA has been important in order to take the ongoing bilateral trade under guarantee, said Stuart. He noted the two governments would hold negotiations for a more comprehensive deal next year “because we believe the U.K. and Turkey can do more in cooperation.”
Stuart stressed the increasing appetite of Turkish companies for investment in Britain. “As the U.K., we are opening to global markets that were not possible while in the EU. This is why I think we are a unique base where Turkish companies can go global,” he noted.
Add to global markets “the access to the world’s leading cross-border financial centers and the best university system in Europe,” he noted.
“We are also seeing more startups and technology ventures looking to launch or expand their operations in the U.K. compared to other European countries.”
Stating that technological progress is needed in many areas to cope with problems such as climate change, aging populations, and the future of mobility, Stuart said that venture capital investments grew in the U.K. even during the pandemic period.
He also stressed Turkey was an “important power,” noting its exports performance and what he said was a resolution of the Turkish people.
“It is getting richer and more international in all areas. Turkey is a very attractive market. That’s why we see so many great British players investing in Turkey, and I will encourage them to do more in the future,” the minister said.
There is still much work Britain and the companies can do with Turkey, he noted, stressing among other things Turkey’s expertise in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and autonomous systems.
Therefore, according to Stuart, “cooperation should be encouraged not only at the government level but between institutions as well.”
Among others, Turkey and the U.K. can do a lot together on issues related to climate change, especially in areas like clean growth technology and electric cars, according to Stuart.
He even said working together to address climate change can help level up trade ties between the two countries.
Stuart noted that the British government has been focusing on one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, namely climate change, and seeking to stop the earth from warming too much.
“That is why the U.K. government will host the U.N. climate conference” known as COP26, set for this Nov. 1-12, he said.
Pointing to the many highly educated Turks working in engineering and manufacturing who are tackling things like clean growth technology and electric cars, he said British know-how can bring a lot to the table to help their Turkish colleagues.
“Our experience installing electric vehicle charging for instance, will be crucial to deliver climate targets in Istanbul and beyond,” he explained.
“And of course, to create a market for companies like TOGG here in in Turkey producing electric vehicles,” he added, referring to Turkey’s Automobile Joint Venture Group, developing Turkey’s first homegrown car.
“I see that very good work has been done in the field of advanced engineering in Turkey. I visited TOGG, I met the team there,” he explained.
“I also met the head of a rocket company called Delta V that uses hybrid technology in a way that could be world leading,” he added, referring to Istanbul-based Delta V Space Technologies.
According to Stuart, there are a great many areas of current production and future technology where the combination of the U.K.’s high-tech capacity with Turkish entrepreneurship can lead to further investment.