UK launches talks with Turkey for 'modernised' trade deal

British trade minister Kemi Badenoch aims to make a deal that is 'fit for the 21st Century'

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Turkey's Trade Minister Omer Bolat at the start of talks on an upgraded UK-Turkey free trade agreement, in the Old Admiralty Building, London. Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire
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The UK and Turkey entered into formal talks to create a “new, modernised” trade deal on Thursday.

The London talks were launched by Britain's Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and her Turkish counterpart, the Minister for Trade, Ömer Bolat.

The first round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in the summer.

Centred on the services sector, British negotiators will be focused on creating opportunities for UK businesses in Turkey’s growing market of 85 million people.

“I’m delighted to be launching trade negotiations with Turkey – an important economic and strategic partner to the UK,” Ms Kemi Badenoch said.

“We already have a thriving trade relationship that will only get stronger with a new, modernised trade deal that is fit for the 21st Century.

“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.”

Britain and Turkey already have a significant economic relationship, with trade between the two worth about £26 billion in 2022.

According to the Office for National Statistics, UK goods exports to Turkey were worth £6.7 billion in 2022, which included power generators and metals.

In 2020, around 57,000 UK jobs were supported by exports to Turkey, 68 per cent of which were in the services sector.

The trade deal will replace the current one, which was mostly negotiated back in the 1990s.

'Strategic gateway'

In terms of global service sector exports, Britain is second only to the US, however, services only comprised 27 per cent of British trade with Turkey in 2022. As such, it's hoped that a deal would increase services exports to Turkey.

In addition, it could also give British consumers improved choices and better access to imported Turkish goods such as nuts, bulgur wheat and tomatoes.

Turkey is a major supplier of vehicles, clothing and electrical machinery to the UK. Britain is Turkey's fourth largest goods export market.

“Turkey is a strategic gateway between the East and the West, offering vast opportunities for growth and innovation that UK businesses can leverage,” said Nicola Watkinson, managing director at TheCity UK.

“An enhanced Free Trade Agreement with Turkey that includes services and digital will open up new trade and investment opportunities for financial and related professional services, as well as laying the groundwork for more robust bilateral relations and a frictionless trade environment that benefits both nations.”

The talks with Turkey are the latest step in Britain's trade strategy that aims for deals with countries that will increase the UK's services industry exports, including continuing negotiations with Mexico and South Korea, and agreements with major US states such as Florida and Texas.

Updated: March 14, 2024, 10:13 PM