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Turkey, UK to begin trade deal talks in June

The official talks, set to begin on June 10, were announced following a Thursday meeting between the countries’ trade ministers in London.
UK Turk

LONDON/ANKARA — Turkey and the United Kingdom announced Thursday they will kick off official talks in June for a new free trade deal, following a meeting between the countries’ trade ministers in London.

Britain has been looking to expand its collection of trade agreements following its exit from the European Union in January 2020, which complicated trade relations with the 27-member bloc, the country’s largest trading partner. As part of this post-Brexit economic push, the UK is also in talks for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Mexico and South Korea trade deals.

On Thursday, Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat and his British counterpart, Kemi Badenoch, met in London. Speaking after the meeting, Bolat said the two countries were set to hold the first round of negotiations in London on June 10.

“I believe that updating our FTA and expanding it to different areas will help increase and diversify our bilateral trade and further contribute to the strong cooperation and ties between our countries,” he said. 

Bolat said on X that the meeting with Badenoch was “very productive,” calling the UK “a strategic trading partner” for Turkey, with trade volume reaching $19 billion in 2023.

Trade between Turkey and the UK was worth almost £26 billion ($33.1 billion) in 2022. Bolat said the UK is Turkey's fourth largest export partner and the fifth largest investor in his country with $8.3 billion in direct investments. 

In a separate statement, Turkey’s Trade Ministry said the talks are “aimed at expanding the scope of the existing agreement to include areas such as trade in services, investments and additional agricultural concessions.” 

Services account for the lion’s share of the UK economy — around 80% of the country’s GDP. Meanwhile, Turkey is one of the fastest-growing economies in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Although the UK is the second biggest services exporter in the world behind the United States, services only made up 27% of its exports to Turkey in 2022. London hopes the new trade deal brings a significant boost to UK services exports to Turkey. 

The current trade deal between the two countries was largely negotiated in the 1990s. In 2020, 57,000 UK jobs were supported by exports to Turkey — 68% of which were in services, according to the British Trade Ministry.

In a statement, the British Trade Ministry said Turkey presents “significant opportunities” for British businesses — particularly in transport, engineering, financial services, manufacturing and technology — driven in part by Turkey’s decarbonization efforts and significant investment in rail projects. The UK, under the banner of the government's export credit agency, UK Export Finance, has supported financing for three high-speed green railway projects in Turkey.

“An upgraded deal will give the UK’s world-leading services sector a competitive edge in this growing market and has the potential to support jobs across the UK," said UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch.

The two countries first announced in July 2023 that they would negotiate a new trade deal.

The deal is expected to give British consumers improved choices and better access to imported Turkish goods such as nuts, bulgur wheat and tomatoes. 

Turkey is a major supplier to Britain of goods such as vehicles, clothing and electrical machinery.

In 2022, UK goods exports to Turkey stood at £6.7 billion ($8.54 billion), which included power generators and metals.