United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, as a part of his Turkey visit, met with the business community at the “Future of Turkey-United Kingdom Trade Relations” meeting.
At the "Future of Turkey-United Kingdom Trade Relations" meeting organized by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), post-Brexit economic relations between the two countries were evaluated.
Minister of Commerce Ruhsar Pekcan, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu and the United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox gave speeches at the meeting held at the TOBB reception hall.
TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu noting the serious lack of direction of the trade relationship between Turkey and United Kingdom, said, “It is our desire that United Kingdom’s leaving of the EU, with or without a deal, will not adversely affect their economic relations with Turkey. Let’s not regress in terms of trade.”
Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that trade relations with the United Kingdom, one of the largest economies of the world, is always important and holds priority.
As a part of NATO, the two countries work together on many international issues, such as fight against terrorism and illegal migration, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Support for Turkey's EU accession process by the United Kingdom government has always been appreciated by our business community. We remember and give thanks for the support of the United Kingdom government for our democracy during the treacherous coup attempt of July 15th.”
Reporting that the United Kingdom is one of the countries which has invested most in Turkey, Hisarcıklıoğlu continued: “Starting with our 19 billion USD trade volume, we should aim for 30 billion USD in the first stage. Approximately 10 billion USD of United Kingdom investments in Turkey is an indicator of confidence in the country's economy and future. Likewise, Turkish entrepreneurs have invested in the United Kingdom at around 2.6 billion USD. Therefore, Turkey and the United Kingdom are important trade and investment partners.”
- “Let's not regress in trade.”
TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu noting the serious lack of direction of the trade relationship between Turkey and United Kingdom, said, “It is our desire that United Kingdom’s leaving of the EU, with or without a deal, will not adversely affect their economic relations with Turkey. We are undoubtedly all of us respectful of the decision of the people of United Kingdom to leave the EU. Our companies doing business with the UK are concerned in this respect. Let’s not regress in terms of trade.”
Pointing out the need to finalize the legal infrastructure of trade between Turkey and the United Kingdom, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The most appropriate commercial model in this regard is free trade. A free trade agreement between Turkey and the United Kingdom should be completed as soon as possible.”
Hisarcıklıoğlu added that the free trade agreement would not only reduce customs duties and quotas, but would also help to overcome non-tariff barriers to goods and services.
- United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox
United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox noting the long history of trade relations between the two countries, stated that Turkey has become one of the UK’s most important trading partners in recent years.
Pointing to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's words that merchants should be worthy of trust, Fox said, “Trust is the most important touchstone of trade.”
Fox underlined that they attach great importance to the United Kingdom's relations with Turkey, which stand at either end of Europe and that as a country which is no longer a part of the European Union (EU), they regard these relations even more highly.
During the West's global economic and political instability in the mid-20th century, Fox stated that they found a partner in Turkey, and that they will make efforts to strengthen relations with Turkey. Fox said, “Therefore, our economic relation with Turkey is very important, which I'm not saying to be kind. This relationship is very important for the rest of the world and for Europe.”
Stating that Turkey is an important partner in G20 and NATO, Fox pointed out that United Kingdom was one of the first countries to reach out to Turkey following the July 15th coup attempt.
Fox, noting that they want to work better with the companies in Turkey and they also encouraged British companies to invest in Turkey, said, “The stronger Turkey is, the stronger our economic and political partnership will be.”
Pointing out that they will be leaving the Customs Union along with the EU, Fox stated that they want to develop an independent commercial system and that Turkey would be an important partner in this regard. Fox said, “We are leaving the EU. While we were in the EU, we were one of Turkey’s most important allies, now will be one of its most important partners in the world.”
- “Brexit is an opportunity not a threat to our relations with Turkey”
Fox, reporting that 44% of the United Kingdom's exports is conducted with the EU, said they do not want to damage relations with the EU and a reasonable agreement is important to them.
Pointing out that Turkey is a very important country for trade in this process, Fox said, “Brexit is an opportunity not a threat to our relations with Turkey.”
Stating that, along with Turkey, they provide a very significant contribution to the world in terms of global trade and regional security, Fox said, “The foundation of our relationship will never change. We will always stand against protectionist trade policies.”
- Minister of Trade Ruhsar Pekcan
Minister of Trade Ruhsar Pekcan pointed out that the two dynamic economies of strategic importance at both ends of Europe and their strategic interests in the region are always compatible with each other, said, “As the trustees of two great economies and cultures, we hope to further these relations.”
Emphasizing that Turkey, in particular the last 15 years, has brought great dynamism in its economy, its annual exports increasing to 168 billion USD, 48.6 billion USD in services exported, Pekcan went on:
“I hope together with you we will raise these figures much higher. The UK is one of the global economy's founders. As Turkey we wont to improve our economic relations with the United Kingdom, and collaborate especially in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, the Balkans. I hope our relations in this regard will continue to grow. As Turkey we are committed to investing in technology, brand and design in the 21st century. We want to see British businessmen as our partners in business and vision.”
Pekcan, stating that the United Kingdom has always been one of Turkey's most important trading partners, after Germany with 11.1 billion USD, reported that imports from the United Kingdom amounted to 7.5 billion USD with a focus on technological imports from the UK.
Pekcan stated that uncertainties about Brexit are causing concern for the Turkish business world and said, “We have been working together with our our British interlocutors since 2016, we have established our trade working groups, and we continue to work this day. Whether or not the Brexit process is finalized with or without a deal, we will work on how we can contribute to our trade relations. Of course, we expect a deal. We are waiting for the steps to be taken in the UK Parliament regarding the arrangements at the end of this process (between the EU and the UK) A no-deal exit will quite adversely affect our business world. Turkey's exports are projected to decline about 25% in this scenario.”