Turkey, UK to upgrade free trade deal to boost economic ties: FM

Turkey and Britain are working to upgrade their free trade agreement as a means to boost bilateral economic ties, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday.

The two countries are “working to expand the scope of the free trade agreement. We have started work on the issue,” Cavusoglu told a joint press conference with his British counterpart Liz Truss in the capital Ankara, referring to a free trade agreement signed in December 2020.

Britain was the third largest destination of Turkish exports in 2021, following Germany and the United States, he said, calling Britain “a strategic partner.”

For her part, the British foreign secretary said the two countries, both NATO members, should have better relations, hailing Turkey’s efforts to open a maritime corridor to export grain from Ukraine.

Noting the urgency of the grain crisis, Truss said the problem will have devastating consequences if not solved within the next month.

Britain recently lifted all restrictions on arms exports to Turkey as the two governments deepened dialogue after the Ukrainian crisis.

Britain previously suspended defense exports to Turkey after the Turkish army launched a military operation in northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in 2019.

Turkey sees the YPG group as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also visited Turkey on Thursday to promote cooperation in the defense industry, according to Cavusoglu. ■

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