Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu says UK-Turkey “very close” to finalising trade deal

A whirlwind visit to Britain by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu last week was followed by news that the two countries are “close to finalising” a free trade agreement (FTA).

Mr Çavuşoğlu told the Financial Times that negotiations between the two countries on key areas were progressing well:

“If you look at the volume of our bilateral trade, 95 per cent of it is industrial products, and we agreed on that . . . and 5 per cent is agriculture and services.”

Trade negotiators have been meeting regularly in 2020 to discuss a wide-ranging deal. Last year, trade volume between the two countries hit a record £19 billion, which both sides intend to grow in the Brexit era.

A senior official at the UK’s Department for International Trade confirmed to the Financial Times that the negotiations were “progressing well”, and that International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena would be holding more trade talks with Turkey this week.

Mr Çavuşoğlu had arrived in London on 8 July following an invitation by his British counterpart Dominic Raab.

In addition to meeting the Foreign Secretary, Mr Çavuşoğlu also met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Wendy Morton, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood, and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Turkey.

In a video shared by the Turkish Foreign Minister about his visit to the UK, he said that he and Mr Raab discussed “Libya, Syria and other regional issues and NATO issues as well.”

The visit gave the chance for the two states to exchange notes on their experiences of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and for the Turkish side to raise concerns about the status of Turkish citizens on the Ankara Agreement, which will no longer be available from the end of this year.

The Financial Times report states Turkey wants to negotiate a separate immigration deal that would grant a special status to many of its citizens after Brexit is realised.

“We have been negotiating two separate agreements, one is the FTA [free trade agreement], one is similar to the Ankara Agreement,” he said, referring to an old European visa scheme available to Turkish businesspeople.

The visit came at a time when Turkey is having increasingly strained relations with the European Union. The EU has publicly sided with its member states France and Greek Cyprus, criticising Turkey over Libya and Eastern Mediterranean drilling.

In a recent meeting with Mr Borell, the EU’s chief diplomat, Mr Çavuşoğlu called on the EU to be more “objective” in response to areas involving Turkey, and that the EU should be “part of the solution not the problem”. In response to threats of an EU boycott, the Turkish Foreign Minister said  Turkey would “reciprocate”.


Main picture, top, of (left to right) the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in London, 08 July 2020. Photo © Twitter / Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu