‘We’re just getting started’: British govt trumpets signing of Turkey trade deal days before UK leaves EU single market

The UK and Turkey have agreed on an extended free trade deal to underpin their existing partnership, days before Britain stops trading according to rules under the European Union.

The agreement covers business worth more than £18.6 billion ($25.25 billion) in 2019, and was announced after a video call between Britain’s international trade secretary, Liz Truss, and Turkey’s minister for trade, Ruhsar Pekcan.

“We’re just getting started,” Truss said in a tweet on Tuesday, as she celebrated the UK’s flurry of post-Brexit deals with 62 countries and the EU, which she said amounted to £885 billion ($1.193 trillion) worth of trade.

“This is unprecedented, with no other country ever negotiating so many trade deals simultaneously,” a spokesperson for the Department for International Trade (DIT) claimed.

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The Turkey deal covers “preferential tariffs” for some 7,600 British businesses that exported goods to the country last year, a sizeable chunk of which were machinery, iron, and steel, according to the DIT statement.

It also includes protections for the movement of car parts between the UK and Turkey, including for automaker Ford, which relies on the supply chain for its Transit range of vehicles.

The deal with Turkey is one of the UK’s largest after Switzerland, Japan, Canada, Iceland, and Norway, and it follows other recent trade agreements, including with Mexico on December 15.

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On Christmas Eve, the UK reached an 11th-hour trade deal with its largest trading partner, the EU, just seven days before the December 31 transition period deadline, when it leaves the 27-nation bloc’s single market and customs union.

EU bosses will sign the deal in Brussels on Wednesday, before an RAF plane flies it to London, where it will be inked by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

UK MPs will be recalled to Parliament on Wednesday to vote on the deal.

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