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Ankara, London ‘very close’ to free trade deal, foreign minister says



By Trend

Turkey and the U.K. are "very close" to signing a free trade agreement for the post-Brexit era, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlьt Зavu?o?lu, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.

An article on the Financial Times Friday quoted Зavu?o?lu as saying negotiations between the two countries on a trade deal, covering manufactured goods, agriculture and services, were "going very well and we are close to finalizing it."

Зavu?o?lu visited London on Wednesday to hold talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

"If you look at the volume of our bilateral trade, 95% of it is industrial products ... and 5% is agriculture and services," the minister said.

The daily underlined that the U.K. is Turkey's second-largest trading partner after Germany, with a trade volume of 18.8 billion pounds ($23.7 billion). More than 2,500 British companies operate in Turkey, including BP, Shell, Vodafone, Unilever, BAE Systems, HSBC, Aviva and Diageo.

Ankara and London have been holding talks on the trade deal, which accelerated after the U.K. formally left the European Union on Jan. 31, 2020, after 47 years of membership and more than three years after Britons voted to leave in a referendum.

The U.K. has until the end of 2020 – a transition period during which it will remain an EU member in all but name – to hammer out a new trade deal with the EU. Any Turkey-U.K. free trade deal would only be able to take place following an EU-U.K. free trade deal, as Turkey is a member of the EU customs union.

The trade deal between the U.K. and has yet to be finalized, as the latest round of talks went ahead this week in London.

$20B bilateral trade target

The FT article reported that if the two sides were unable to secure a deal by the year-end, Ankara could face a dilemma over whether to push ahead with the agreement with Britain and risk breaching EU rules.

Зavu?o?lu apparently acknowledged that this would be a "bizarre situation," adding that the U.K. was a "strategic ally."

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