UK looking for new suppliers instead of China, Turkey has important opportunities, says British ambassador
A “very bright future” could be on the horizon for British-Turkish trade and investment ties if the sides can secure a more comprehensive agreement to follow their free trade deal late last year, according to the UK’s ambassador in Ankara.
“I’m talking about fresh agricultural produce, services, the digital economy, public procurement, and maybe also increasing the incentives for mutual investment in each other’s markets,” Dominick Chilcott told Anadolu Agency.
The populations of Germany and Turkey are roughly the same size at about 80 million, he said. Yet, the UK’s trade with Germany is eight times bigger than its trade with Turkey.
Chilcott said part of the reason for this was that Germany has a lot of very-high-tech companies, though even this could not justify such a wide gap.
“The scope for growing our trade with Turkey must be there. It shouldn’t be eight times smaller than our trade with Germany,” he underlined.
Touching on the lessons learned from the pandemic conditions, he said many countries including the UK came to the realization that they had become too dependent on China as a supplier.
“The UK wants to find other suppliers. It happens in our locality, there is a relatively low-cost supplier with a wide manufacturing base, which manufactures to European standards. And that’s called Turkey.”
Chilcott said the UK could source more of its needs from Turkey as an initial course of action while diversifying from China.
More British investment amid Turkey’s green transition
With the UK committing itself to zero net carbon emissions by 2050, the British envoy underlined that this ambitious target would have a huge impact on its foreign trade relations.
“We’re going to have to start now buying the equipment. We need to get down to zero emissions and decarbonize our economy.”
According to Chilcott, British companies will be looking for good places to invest where they can manufacture this equipment that they need.
These firms, he added, will want their company’s reputations to stay untarnished and will be influenced by the nature of the countries they invest in.
“And I think Turkey has an opportunity now if it gets behind the Paris [climate] treaty, and joins the international consensus emerging consensus on setting an ambitious emissions reduction target.”
It will be up to the Turkish government, whether it does these things, he emphasized.
“But if it were to do those things, I think it would generate a lot of momentum, and draw a lot of attention to itself by companies looking to invest in the new green technologies of the future.”
‘Turkey, UK in different places on Customs Union’
To maximize the potential in its trade with the EU, Turkey also needs to take account of the bloc’s Green Deal carbon adjustment tariffs for countries they trade with, Chilcott said.
On whether Brexit could have an impact on Turkey’s approach to EU membership, he said: “If you look at the public statements by members of the Turkish government, they’re very clear. Membership is still the long-term objective.”
But, some people are interested to see what kind of future relationship the UK will have with the EU, in case that provides a model for Turkey in some way, he added.
“I’m not sure it will do because, you know, one of the big consequences of Brexit is we’re outside the Customs Union and Turkey wants to stay in and indeed expand its relationship within the Customs Union,” he stressed.
According to him, Turkey and the UK are in different places in this case.