UK seeks enhanced trade ties with Turkey after Brexit

ANADOLU AGENCY
ANKARA
Published 08.10.2019 15:15

The U.K. wants to protect and increase its trade volume with Turkey, the British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (BCCT) Chairman Chris Gaunt told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

The Turkish and British authorities are seeking to find a solution to issues that may arise in bilateral trade post-Brexit, Gaunt confirmed.

He said that the U.K. does not want to lose the current bilateral trade volume between the two countries of around £18 billion ($23 billion) but wants to strengthen its commercial relations with Turkey despite uncertainties over Brexit.

Both sides are willing to undertake new investments and projects, but British companies are going through a difficult process with uncertainties due to Brexit, Gaunt explained.

"It was never going to be an easy transition. We have seen this over the last three years. Now, we have got to a point, where the government and the prime minister made a very clear commitment that we will leave on the 31st of October with or without a deal. Whether that will happen is not clear either," he said.

He called for a form of free trade agreement that he said would be needed between the two countries as Turkey, which is a part of the EU's Customs Union Agreement, cannot independently under current EU rules negotiate a deal with the U.K. if it leaves without a deal.

"Our diplomats and the Turkish ministries are working to find a solution to this," he said.

The BCCT is focusing heavily on Turkey, particularly for energy and technology trade. "We keep Turkey as very high profile," Gaunt said.

To this end, the chamber has organized two conferences in the U.K. to be held by the end of the year to allow start-ups, Turkish companies and U.K. companies to meet.

U.K. Offshore wind farm technology has been targeted from the many potential investment opportunities that they follow, Gaunt said.

The U.K. government has been promoting this technology and wants to bring it to Turkey, a sector that Turkey to date has not invested in.

"It is going to happen, whether it happens now or later. We have already committed to providing this sort of help and support to Turkey," he asserted.

Solar storage technology is another target sector in which Turkey has huge potential.

He said that British companies with experience in developing storage for solar power are interested in looking for opportunities in countries like Turkey with strong solar potential.

In recognition of Turkey's advantageous, geographical location as a potential hub for U.K. companies, he said, "up until now we have been providing services to U.K. companies, but now we are also providing services to Turkish companies, particularly Turkish companies that want to invest in the U.K.

"When you view Turkey, you do not just look at it in terms of its domestic market, but also look at its trading relationships within the region because many Turkish companies have operations in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

"If you want to expand your products and brands into these markets the first stop is Turkey and you should try to find a good Turkish partner that will enable you to move into these markets. We promote that very strongly," Gaunt said.

He said that the chamber works very closely with the U.K. Export Finance (UKEF), which is very active in Turkey.

The UKEF allocated a $3 billion budget for Turkey, which can also be used for Turkish and British companies' investment projects in third countries, Gaunt explained.

"The UKEF can provide funding of up to 85% of the total, but the criteria are based on using 20% of U.K. content in the supply chain," he added.

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