By Yunus Turk and Aysu Bicer
ANKARA (AA) - A Green Turkey would be well-placed to supply European countries' low carbon needs, according to the British consul general in Istanbul.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Kenan Poleo evaluated the current state of economic ties between Turkey and the UK.
Noting that the UK's relationship with Turkey continues to grow, Poleo said the British government's export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), would provide £217 million ($292 million) to finance the largest solar facility in Turkey, the size of 4,600 football fields.
"This project also demonstrates the potential of UK-Turkey business cooperation, as it will be supported by workers in the UK for the integration of the solar technology and the assembly of the solar power station," he underlined.
Britain's relationship with Turkey continues to grow and UK businesses' desire to come to Turkey to identify new opportunities and partnerships is strong, he added.
"The UK's departure from the EU has meant we need to invest even more into our bilateral relationships with strong and important countries like Turkey," he underlined.
He underlined that British business delegations are keen to partner with Turkey in areas such as innovative pharmaceuticals, genomics, and digital health.
Sectors such as defense and aerospace, the green and renewable sector, and transport infrastructure are also areas that carry great potential to collaborate, he added.
- Free trade deal
Referring to a free trade agreement (FTA) signed late in 2020, Poleo said this deal was a critical moment for the bilateral relationship and will provide a platform for continued tariff-free trade in all areas covered by Turkey's previous arrangements with the EU.
"The pandemic was a challenge for global trade, but despite this headwind, our trade remained strong at £16.6 billion from June 2020 to June 2021," he said, adding that the UK remains a premier destination for Turkish exports of apparel, major home appliances, and automotive.
"I wasn't surprised that our trade remained resilient given the upward trajectory of British-Turkish trade over many years, growing 70% from 2010 to the beginning of the pandemic."
Both governments, he added, have committed to start discussions by the end of next year to review their FTA and look for new areas to expand trade, such as the services, digital, and agricultural sectors.
"Resolution of non-tariff barriers to trade is equally important as our FTA if we are to reach the full potential of our commercial relations," he said.
In most years, the UK is one of the top four investors in Turkey, with many major UK businesses present in the country, such as Vodafone, Diageo, BP, Shell, and Unilever, explained the envoy.
"We also see a continuing interest from Turkish investors to expand into the UK market. After Brexit, many large Turkish companies have decided to become part of the UK supply chain and have announced major manufacturing investments, for example in the glass manufacturing and packaging sectors," said Poleo.
Turkey's manufacturing industry is highly efficient, competitive, and a great trade base for the region, he concluded.