Turkey holds high potential for growth, mutual trade benefits, UK official says

Turkey and the U.K.’s bilateral trade volume is set to increase in the coming years as London recognizes the high growth potential of its trading partner as it makes rapid progress toward becoming a significant player in the field of technology, British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (BCCT) Chairperson Chris Gaunt said Friday.

Gaunt, speaking primarily on the newly inked Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they see opportunities through investing in Turkish firms. He said the U.K. is in the process of concluding several other FTAs with other countries and those would also benefit Turkish companies investing in England.

He said that the FTA is a continuity agreement and therefore covers all agreements previously owned, noting: “We now have a sustainable, solid platform where we can develop our business relationship prospectively. This is a very comprehensive agreement.”

Reiterating that they had been working on concluding the deal with Turkey for the last two years, he said that the only issue that prevented them from doing so was the U.K.’s FTA with the European Union that came with the Brexit process.

“Many Turkish companies were worried that this deal would not happen,” he said. In a major milestone, Turkey and the U.K. signed the FTA on Dec. 29, and it became effective after Britain formally left the EU.

Gaunt, noting that Turkey has a trade surplus with the U.K., said that this is a mutually beneficial deal primarily aimed at increasing the bilateral trade volume of 19 billion pounds ($25.8 million). “We see that there is an increasing trend in trade value for the last five to six years. No doubt this increase will continue,” he said.

The U.K. is the second-biggest export market of Turkey, and it therefore has critical importance for Turkey’s future economy, Gaunt said.

He said the FTA is only the beginning, adding: “I think it should be clarified that this is a continuity agreement with scope for expansion. We have two years ahead of us. This process is important for the two countries to develop bilateral trade relations. Many sectors can be included in this agreement. Therefore, negotiations did not stop; negotiations will continue.”

“We have secured the existing relationship, which is the most important part that allows us to progress in business relations and add value to what we have,” Gaunt said. He added that Ankara and London will try to look at other areas “where we can increase business and economic relations over the next 12 to 24 months.”

Gaunt also said that Turkey is a regional hub and that they will look for ways to increase the U.K.’s export potential with the mediation of Turkish firms, benefitting from Turkey’s power in the region.

Emphasizing that Turkey has long-standing trade relations with the Middle East, Central Asia, Russia and North Africa, Gaunt pointed out the example of the Turkish construction sector being extremely powerful. The U.K. wants to support this industry with financing, he said.

He noted that Turkish and British companies are already cooperating in the field of defense and on warplane production.

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