Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday evening (20 May 2022) to discuss UK-Turkey cooperation and the global response to the conflict in Ukraine.
The leaders shared their deep concern at the ongoing Russian onslaught on Ukraine and its far-reaching consequences for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region and wider world.
The Prime Minister welcomed Turkey’s leading role in addressing the crisis, and they agreed to work together to unlock vital supply routes for Ukrainian grain stocks and alleviate rising global food prices.
On the issue of NATO expansion, the Prime Minister highlighted the threat posed by Russia to its European neighbours and emphasised that Finland and Sweden would be valuable additions to the NATO alliance. He encouraged President Erdoğan to work with Swedish, Finnish and NATO counterparts to address any concerns ahead of the summit in Madrid next month, and said the UK stands ready to support.
The leaders also welcomed the UK and Turkey’s growing defence, security and trade partnership.
The Prime Minister noted that trade between our two countries increased by £3 billon last year and could be further strengthened.
The UK and Turkey signed a free trade deal in December 2020, one of the first deals after the UK agreed a Brexit deal to leave the EU.
Trade between London and Ankara was worth £18.6 billion in 2019, and the UK is Turkey’s second-biggest export market, mostly for precious metals, vehicles, textiles and electrical equipment. While Turkey is not an EU member, it does have a customs union with the EU, meaning that the new UK-Turkey deal could not be struck until after the Brexit deal was finalised.
At the time Turkey’s trade minister, Ruhsar Pekcan, called the deal a landmark in UK-Turkish relations.
According to the Department for International Trade, the new deal secured existing preferential tariffs for 7,600 UK businesses exporting machinery, iron and steel to Turkey, and protect automotive and manufacturing supply chains.
The Prime Minister and President Erdoğan said they looked forward to meeting in person at the earliest opportunity.
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