British minister heads to Turkey ahead of start of trade talks

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s trade minister Kemi Badenoch will meet her Turkish counterpart Omer Bolat during a trip to Istanbul on Friday to discuss closer ties, ahead of the expected launch of negotiations on a new free trade deal later this year.

Both Britain and Turkey have agreed there is room to broaden the scope of their current free trade agreement, which was rolled over when Britain left the European Union.

“I’m delighted to be in Turkey ahead of talks to upgrade our existing trade deal to make it fit for the 21st century,” Badenoch said in a statement, noting Britain’s services sector in particular could benefit from any new agreement.

“Turkey presents huge opportunities for UK businesses… I’m excited to start discussions on ensuring our new trading relationship with Turkey unlocks those opportunities.”

Britain is in advanced talks with India on a new free trade deal, and its trade ministry said it wished to progress talks on services-focussed trade deals with Switzerland, Mexico and South Korea as well as Turkey in 2024.

During the trip Badenoch will also visit Turkish Airlines, which is set to buy 220 Airbus jets in a contract the British government called one of the UK’s biggest export deals to date, due to the Airbus and Rolls-Royce parts made in the country.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar)