British businesses, individuals and other stakeholders have been invited to share their views on what they would like to see in a revised Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United Kingdom and Turkiye.
The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) launched its public Call for Input on Thursday 2nd November, allowing people to share their feedback via an online form for a period of nine weeks, with details shared in Parliament by Nigel Huddleston, then the Minister of State for the Department for Business and Trade.
As part of its launch, the DBT highlighted the significance of the Turkish economy and its bilateral trade value with Britain:
“The UK is committed to enhancing our existing trade relationship with Turkey, a dynamic and rapidly modernising economy, expected to be the 12th largest in the world by 2050 and the fourth largest in Europe. The UK and Turkey are the two major powerhouse trading economies at each edge of the European continent and our current trade is valued at £23.5 billion.”
A growing Turkish economy
In an advertising campaign in British media by the DBT, there is recognition of Turkiye’s growing economic importance:
“Sitting at the crossroads between East and West, Turkey (officially Türkiye) has been a global nexus for trade for centuries: it was a capital in both the Roman and Byzantine empires and a key post on the Silk Road trade route between Europe and Asia.
“Turkey borders eight countries, and the iconic city of Istanbul sits astride the Bosphorus, one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. With a population of 85 million and a median age of 33, Turkey’s dynamic economy is growing rapidly, leading to increased demand for innovative goods and services.”
It notes that the Turkish Republic, which celebrated its centenary last month, is “swiftly becoming a manufacturing powerhouse for Europe, Asia and Africa.”
With its rapidly urbanising cities – the country has over 24 urban centres with populations of more than a million – Turkiye’s economy just keeps on growing. According to the OECD Turkey’s economy was one of just two in the G20 which actually grew at the height of the pandemic.
UK-Turkiye trade relations
The current FTA between the UK and Turkiye was signed in 2020 and came into force on 1 January 2021, just after Britain formally exited the European Union. However, the agreement essentially replicates the outdated Customs Union between the EU and Turkiye, which covers goods but excludes agriculture, services and public procurement.
The DBT states that as such, the 2020 FTA with Turkiye “is not tailored to the strengths and demands of our modern economies’” and that they want “to establish a modern, 21st-century agreement tailored to the evolving economies of both nations to cover crucial sectors, including digital trade and services.”
The UK and Turkiye share many business success stories. From Turkiye, major brands such as Beko, Ulker, Turkish Airlines and, more recently, Getir have firmly established themselves in Britain.
Going in the opposite direction are over 7,500 UK companies, which export to Turkey, including Vodafone, HSBC, and Dyson.
The DBT highlights that Turkiye’s “thriving” manufacturing, transport, tech and infrastructure sectors “have generated a surge in demand for international expertise in areas such as digital technology.”
While the EU stumbles and stalls over upgrading its Customs Union with Turkiye, which dates back to December 1995, due to political objections from the likes of Greece and South Cyprus, the UK is keen to forge ahead.
A revised FTA with Turkiye would help the UK champion “the interests and priorities of British businesses” and “position them advantageously for future opportunities”.
The Call for Input will allow stakeholders to help define the new trade mandate, guiding British officials on “comprehensive negotiation preparations”, as well as “shaping” the UK’s strategy and policy positions for trade with Turkiye.
The DBT states that while it wants to act in the “best interests of the British economy”, it will not “not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards.”
The UK goes further in stating it will be “protecting the NHS”, although many will be hoping that healthcare will form a core component of the new deal with Turkiye. The Turks have heavily invested in developing their health, pharmaceutical and medical sectors, which have advanced rapidly and, in terms of both cost and care, could help alleviate some of the pressures on the UK’s own national health service and eye-dropping costs.
Call for Input
As part of its Call for Input consultation, the DBT say they are particularly interested in responses to following questions:
- Which areas do you want the UK government to prioritise in trade talks with Turkiye when negotiating a new FTA?
- Are you facing challenges or constraints when trading with or investing in Turkiye? If so, what are these challenges and constraints and how significant are they to your business activity?
- How would you expect your business to respond if restrictions were removed on trade with Turkey? For example, how might you look to increase trade with or investment in Turkiye or attract increased trade and investment from Turkiye?
- Are there any areas where you would have concerns about increased liberalisation of trade between the UK and Turkiye?
To share your thoughts, visit this link to access the DBT’s public Call for Input on an upgraded Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and Turkiye.