Turkey, Britain set to sign free trade deal this week

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey will sign a free trade deal with Britain on Dec. 29. "A new era begins starting in 2021, one in which both Turkey and the UK will win," he said on Dec. 28. Erdoğan's comments came a day after the UK ministry said that the two nations will sign a deal that replicates the existing trading terms.

Britain's Secretary of State of International Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss is seen outside Downing Street, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain March 17, 2020.

Duvar English / Reuters

Turkey and the UK are set to sign a landmark free trade agreement on Dec. 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said following a Cabinet meeting.

The pact with the UK – coming days before Brexit’s transitional period ends – will be Turkey’s "most important trade deal" since its 1995 Customs Union with the EU, Erdoğan said on Dec. 28.

"A new era begins starting in 2021, one in which both Turkey and the UK will win," he said.

Erdoğan's comments came a day after the UK trade ministry announced the upcoming deal, the first since UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a new trade agreement with the EU. 

British Trade Minister Liz Truss said on Dec. 27 that she was hopeful a bespoke deal between the countries could be struck soon.

"The deal we expect to sign this week locks in tariff-free trading arrangements and will help support our trading relationship. It will provide certainty for thousands of jobs across the UK in the manufacturing, automotive and steel industries," Truss said in a statement.

"We now look forward to working with Turkey towards an ambitious tailor-made UK-Turkey trade agreement in the near future."

The trading relationship was worth 18.6 billion pounds ($25.25 billion) in 2019, and Britain said it was the fifth-biggest trade deal the trade ministry had negotiated after agreements with Japan, Canada, Switzerland and Norway.

Britain has now signed trade agreements with 62 countries ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on Jan. 1, when it leaves the EU's trading arrangements.

It clinched its narrow trade deal with the EU, its biggest trading partner, last week.