The UK and Turkey are expected to sign a free trade deal on Tuesday, the first since Boris Johnson signed a new trade deal with the EU.
The two countries have finalized the text of a “continuity agreement” which reproduces the existing trade conditions between Ankara – which has a customs union agreement with Brussels – and London. Bilateral trade between the countries was worth nearly £ 19 billion last year, according to the Department for International Trade.
The document is expected to be signed this week by representatives from each side in a video call. An exchange of diplomatic notes will then allow the deal to enter into force even if there is not enough time for it to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries before the UK leaves the market. EU unique on December 31.
Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary, said: “The deal we plan to sign this week locks in tariff-free trade deals and will help bolster our £ 18.6 billion trade relationship. Last year. This will secure thousands of jobs across the UK in the manufacturing, automotive and steel industries. “
The UK is Turkey’s second largest export market, but Ankara’s customs union with the EU meant that a free trade deal could not be finalized until a Brexit deal would not be in place. This fear among Turkish producers of white goods, cars and textiles that their products could face high import duties and could struggle with UK border delays if Britain crashes out of the block of 27 members.
A UK official said there was an “immediate sense of relief” at the deal, adding that Turkish manufacturers and their UK counterparts were worried about the prospect of no deal.
“The UK is the biggest export market for home appliances made in Turkey,” said Hakan Bulgurlu, managing director of Turkish manufacturer Arcelik, which markets under the Beko name in Europe. “We welcome the efforts to quickly finalize a free trade agreement between Turkey and the UK that will maintain the essence of our partnership without tariffs or quotas.”
The deal aims to replicate the trading conditions that currently exist between the UK and Turkey, with duty-free trade on all non-agricultural products, UK officials say. The United Kingdom has also agreed to renew the preferential tariffs which Turkey enjoys on certain agricultural products as part of its customs union with the EU.
The deal contains a review clause that requires the two countries to meet again within the next two years to discuss expanding the deal to include services, including digital services, and more liberal regulations on trade and agriculture.
Ankara has sought for years a similar upgrade to its customs deal with the EU, but the process has been stalled largely for political reasons, as the relationship between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and EU leaders deteriorated. Many members of the bloc are alarmed by what they see as the increasing authoritarianism and its aggressive foreign policy.
The British official said it would be easier for Britain to take a “pragmatic” approach with Turkey, adding that an improved free trade agreement would be “win-win” for both countries.
Turkish officials did not respond to requests for comment. The country’s Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan confirmed on Sunday that a draft agreement between the two countries was “ready to be signed”, adding that Ankara was in talks with the EU and the UK on the way to speed up the completion process.