ANKARA: Turkey and Britain signed a free-trade agreement on Tuesday as the UK prepares to leave the European Union’s economic orbit at the start of the new year.

The deal, which will come into effect on Jan 1, aims to support trade between the two countries which was worth more than $25 billion in 2019. It is one of many post-Brexit trade deals the British government is pursuing with nations around the world and came days after it finalized a trade agreement with the EU.

The UK left the EU on Jan 31 of this year but remained subject to the bloc’s business regulations and within its customs union during a transition period that ends on Dec 31.

Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan and Dominick Chilcott, the British ambassador to Turkey, signed the the British-Turkish agreement.

Pekcan hailed the deal as the most significant trade pact for Turkey since the signing of a customs union agreement with the EU in 1995.

The free trade agreement is a new and special milestone in the relationship between Turkey and United Kingdom, Pekcan said during the ceremony. Britain is Turkey’s second-largest export market.

A British government statement said the deal will secure existing preferential tariffs for some 7,600 British businesses that exported goods to Turkey in 2019, ensuring the continued tariff-free flow of goods.

Both countries have said the deal will lead to a more comprehensive agreement in the future.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2020

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