Bilateral Relations, 23.1.2017

Relations between Turkey and the UK have a long history dating back to 400 years ago. The UK was one of the first countries with which the Ottoman Empire established regular diplomatic relations. The first Ambassador appointed by the UK to the Ottoman Empire, William Harborne, assumed his duties in Istanbul in 1583 and Yusuf Agah Efendiassumed his duties as the Ottoman Ambassador to London in 1793.

Turkish-UK relations, based on a deep-rooted history, continue to improve steadily today, and high-level contacts along with visits are instrumental in boosting ties.

Turkey and the UK enjoy well-established relations based on NATO alliance, strategic partnership, mutual economic interests and shared security concerns.

Turkey and the UK understand each other’s dynamics and conditions. The UK was the first European country to voice its strong and clear support in wake of the attempted coup in Turkey. Again, it was the first European country to send a high-level envoy to Turkey to offer its condolences. Foreign Secretary Johnson’s visit to Turkey from 25 to 27 September 2016, has demonstrated that the momentum in bilateral cooperation will be widened and deepen in the period ahead.

Indeed, Turkey and the UK have the mutual political commitment to further improve bilateral relations in every field.On this basis, firm foundations for bilateral cooperation have been laid through a “Strategic Partnership Agreement”, which was renewed during former UK Prime Minister Cameron's visit to Ankara in July 2010. Through this document, bilateral cooperation continues to flourish in a variety of areas.

The UK continues to support Turkey in its march towards membership of the European Union.
Furthermore, the two countries share similar approaches in the face of regional and international problems, and they are in constant contact and coordination to this end.

In accordance with the currentstate of the bilateral relations, bilateral economic and commercial relations continue to improve dynamically. Bilateral trade between Turkey and the UK increased by %68 since 2009 and exceeded 16 billion dollars in 2016.

Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) continues to contribute to the enhancement of commercial and economic relationsas a leading bilateral commercial mechanism.

Turkey’s position as a manufacturing hub and its proximity to the UK market make Turkey a reliable trade partner for the UK in various sectors and products. Today, BEKO, a Turkish brand is the most selling white goods brand in the UK. There are various industrial goods in the UK market sourced from Turkey. To name a few, 85% of UK’s non-EU imports of buses and minibuses (source: UK Trade Info data), 11% of total imports of apparel and ready-wear (source:Trademap) and finally 10% of TVs (source: Trademap) are made in Turkey.

The picture on the investment part of economic relations is also bright. In fact, the UK is also one of the largest investors in Turkey in terms of foreign direct investments, and UK companies are active in Turkey across a wide range of sectors. There are more than 2,900 UK companies operating in Turkey. The UK’s direct investments in Turkey amount to 8.4 billion dollars. Vodafone, Rolls Royce, BP, HSBC, Diageo, Sab Miller, British American Tobacco and GKN are among the top UK investors in Turkey.

The UK vote to “Brexit”, which Turkey fully respects, requires a readjustment in the bilateral economic and commercial relations. That is why it was agreed during the visit of H.E. Mr. Nihat Zeybekci, Turkish Minister of Economy, to London on 8-9 September 2016, to begin exploratory talks between the two countries to shape the economic relations in the aftermath of Brexit.

“Turkey-UK Tatlıdil Forum’’ continues to make a valuable contribution to the bilateral relations. This forum, in essence, is a social forum aiming at bringing together people from different walks of life on the basis of adisciplined understanding.Businessmen, politicians, scholars, representatives from media are able to discuss and exchange views overvarious unfolding developments over two days. The last meeting of the forum was held in Bath from 11 to 13 March 2016.


Bekir Utku Atahan Consul General
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