UK 'looks for enhanced trade relations' with Turkey

British Chamber of Commerce of Turkey (BCCT) Chairman evaluates trade relations between Turkey and the UK in a special interview with Anadolu Agency (AA).

British Chamber of Commerce of Turkey (BCCT) Chairman evaluates trade relations between Turkey and the UK in a special interview with Anadolu Agency (AA).

by Nilay Kar & Sare Selvi Ozturk

ISTANBUL - Trade between Turkey and the UK is set to increase, Chris W. J. Gaunt, Chairman of British Chamber of Commerce of Turkey (BCCT), told Anadolu Agency (AA).

"We've seen a lot of interest in Turkey. Turkish companies are investing in the UK, which is positive. We will be working very closely to promote opportunities for Turkish businesses in UK and also looking to find partners in Turkey for British companies."

"We are also continuing to increase investments from the UK to Turkey," Gaunt said during a reception held by BCCT in Istanbul.

The UK is Turkey’s fifth largest market for imports from the EU, with a value of US$4.7 billion. In 2010, Britain and Turkey agreed to double bilateral trade by 2015. And momentum has developed since then, with trade increasing by over 40% against the target.

Over 2,200 UK companies currently do business in Turkey, 2 million British tourists take holidays in Turkey every year, and 100,000 Turks travel to the UK for business or pleasure.

In regards to Turkey's economy, Gaunt said: "We've seen very dramatic and successful growth of Turkish economy in recent years. We believe that will continue to grow."

The Turkish economy is expected to be the second fastest growing economy in the world by 2018 and will out-strip those of Italy and Spain in the next decade.

The BCCT chairman also spoke of Turkey's EU bid, saying that although he believes that Turkey will join the EU eventually, it won't happen quickly. “Don't forget, the UK went for EU accession three times and were rejected twice. It's not an easy journey."

Of the 35 membership chapters to be checked off before Turkey can join the EU, 14 have been completed so far. If all of the chapters are completed, France and Austria will put Turkey's EU membership to a referendum, as will Turkey’s government.

During his Ankara visit last month, French President Francois Hollande cautiously backed Turkey's aim to join the European Union.

Hollande said that Turkey should continue to negotiate in view of joining the EU, despite criticism that the talks will bring issues, such as rule of law, judicial independence, and separation of powers and respect of fundamental liberties, to the table.

Gaunt emphasized that the EU will change in the near future. "In five and 10 years, the EU will be a different EU. There will be different politicians. There will be different attitudes," he said.

"Turkey has a major role to play. That will change people's attitude and will change their approach. I am optimistic about it," he added.

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