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Türkiye to continue being priority market for UK, says British trade body | Politics

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Chris Gaunt, head of the British Chamber of Commerce in Türkiye (BCCT), said the relationship between Türkiye and the UK is in the direction of building “a stronger investment environment.”

“Türkiye will still be a priority market, both from trade and goods and services, but also from investments,” he told Anadolu.

Following the review of the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Türkiye and the UK to make it a more comprehensive agreement, the decision to start update negotiations was taken on July 18, 2023.

The first round of the update negotiations of the FTA between the two countries, which is based on the Customs Union established nearly 30 years ago and covers mainly industrial goods, is planned to be held in London on the week of June 10, 2024.

Updating and extending the FTA to different areas will help expand and diversify bilateral trade, and further contribute to the strong cooperation and ties between the two countries.

The update negotiations aim to expand the FTA to include areas such as trade in goods and services, investments, and additional agricultural concessions, as well as comprehensive provisions.

The updated FTA’s goal is to establish a stronger and more comprehensive legal basis for business communities in both countries, and to expand the ongoing dialogue and bilateral cooperation.

– Türkiye-UK bilateral trade reaches around $28B

Gaunt told Anadolu that the trade relations between Türkiye and the UK have “always been strong and will continue to be strong.”

He said the renegotiated FTA indicates how Türkiye and the UK want to grow their trade in the coming years.

“The basis of the renegotiation is to introduce more sectors into the agreement, which obviously will increase the volume of trade and value,” he said.

Gaunt mentioned that there was a decline in bilateral trade volume during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it has now reached approximately $28 billion.

Emphasizing the increased bilateral trade volume, “we’ve seen an increase in exports from Türkiye to UK, that’s a larger proportion of that increase, so, it definitely benefits the economy in Türkiye,” said Gaunt.

He pointed out that the services sector will gain more importance with the updated FTA, saying: “We want to introduce a more comprehensive agricultural engagement with Türkiye, because currently, it’s relatively limited. I believe that the UK can provide a lot of support in terms of agriculture, (since) Türkiye has got all the ingredients, the environment, and its location (as) a major producer of agricultural products. So, something that I think the UK can help Türkiye achieve.”

– ‘SMEs are backbone of any economy’

Gaunt underlined that Türkiye is quite a popular destination for UK tourists.

He said the tourism sector is “critical” to Türkiye.

About the number of UK tourists coming to Türkiye, Gaunt said: “We’ve seen last summer an increase that, again, going back to COVID, there was a decrease, but now it’s growing again, and I don’t see any reason why this summer it wouldn’t continue to grow.”

He mentioned that the BCCT plays an important role in the trade between Türkiye and the UK, saying: “Our focus is supporting Turkish SMEs and bringing them together with UK SMEs. SMEs are the backbone of any economy, and we want to make sure that they have a major role in both countries in building and strengthening our trade relations.”

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