Ambassador Faruk Kaymakçı, was one of the speakers in the “Turkey-UK Business Council Brexit Panel” organised by DEIK, where experts commented on the report regarding the opportunities and risks that Brexit would present for the relations between the UK and Turkey.
The most comprehensive report on Brexit in Turkey, “The Political and Economic Risks and Opportunities in the Turkey-UK-EU Relations”, was prepared and presented by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) in the “Turkey and the Brexit Process: Risks and Opportunities” seminar hosted and organised by DEIK’s Turkey-UK Business Council.The report outlined the risks and opportunities that Turkey may be faced with, under the various scenarios of the Brexit process. It was emphasized that Turkey should sign a Free Trade Agreement with the UK and become a party to the Customs Union agreements, forthwith.
The Turkey-UK Business Council’s “Turkey and the Brexit Process: Risks and Opportunities” event took place in Istanbul on 18 September 2019, with the participation of Mr. Faruk Kaymakçı, the Turkish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dominick Chilcott, the UK Ambassador in Ankara, Ms. Judith Slater British Consulate-General in Istanbul, Mr. Remzi Gür, President of the DEIK Turkey UK Business Council, Ms. Elif Gürsoy, the Director General for EU and Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Economy, Assoc. Prof. Yaprak Gürsoy, Faculty of Aston University, and Ms. Nicola Walker Director of Government Affairs, Europe, of the Ford Motor Company.
The opening remarks in the “Turkey-UK Business Council Panel on Brexit” organised by DEIK were presented by Mr. Faruk Kaymakçı, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director of EU Affairs. Pointing out that a referendum was held in the UK in 2016, Kaymakçı said that “All of the current arguments are based on the results of this referendum. The results gave rise to an ambiguity. The UK historically held two referendums with regard to the EU [membership]”.
Kaymakçı further added that “If the UK leaves the EU today, taking out those people who voted in the referendum in 2016 and have passed away in the meantime and without adding new voters, then Brexit itself becomes automatically void. 80% of the young people voted for UK to remain in the EU.” Pointing out that this referendum had actually not been binding, Kaymakçı said the following: “This referendum is of an advisory nature. If you are in the continent of Europe, you do not have the luxury of staying outside the EU. I deem that EU membership, 90 out of 100, is a benefit. In my opinion Brexit will harm the EU, the UK as well as Turkey. One of the subjects we address in the negotiations with the UK is Cyprus. As you know, the UK has bases in the island of Cyprus.”
“Turkey’s exports to the UK is 18.6 billion USD.”
Mr. Remzi Gür, President of the DEIK Turkey-UK Business Council commented that “The UK is Turkey’s second largest partner in Europe. In 2016, Britain considered leaving the European Union. We tried to enter the EU, but we could not. The UK wants to leave for particular reasons, but the separation process has yet to be decided by the UK and the EU” he said. Noting that Britain’s investment in Turkey is around 10 billion dollars, Gür added that, “Close to 3 thousand UK businessmen are doing business in Turkey. Since Turkey’s exports to the UK are $18.6 billion, what will be our losses if the UK leaves the EU without a deal? According to the Minister of Trade, Turkey could lose $2.5 billion or $3 billion in such a case. I think the UK will recover and continue its trade in a short time. Britain is one of the largest countries in the world. If we also suffer from this situation, I think we will recover in a short time.”
“In case of Brexit with a deal, an FTA can be signed with Turkey“
Speaking at the opening of the event, the British Ambassador to Ankara, Mr. Dominick Chilcott said that the relations between Britain and Turkey would be good in the long term, however the short term could be a little turbulent. Stressing that Brexit is one of the main factors that will determine the relations between the two countries, Chilcott said, “If a hard Brexit occurs, we will have some important legal and administrative challenges ahead of us.” Chilcott noted that Brexit is a very complicated process and there are too many variables: “No one knows how to solve this problem and how long it will last. Maybe a general election can be held this fall, maybe not.” Dominick Chilcott said there would be a transition period in the case of a negotiated Brexit, during which time things would continue as they were with the EU, parallel to which a free trade agreement (FTA) could be signed between Turkey and the UK. Chilcott stressed that the FTA should be signed between the two countries as soon as possible and that this would depend on the political will of the two governments. Post-Brexit, relations with Turkey will be one of the most important relations for the UK, Chilcott said, “No matter which government is in power, our sentiments of mutual care will continue and increase. These are both influential countries… How will we live as a neighbour to the EU and how harmonised or how independent we will be in regard to the EU… These are the big questions we have in common.”
“The best scenario for us is for Britain to remain in the Customs Union”
Dr. Yaprak Gürsoy, Associate Professor at Aston University, who presented the report on Political and Economic Risks and Opportunities in Brexit: Turkey-UK-EU Relations said: “We have prepared a comprehensive report in order to present a historical perspective, to explain the Brexit process, to share the political implications, economic impacts and the results of a process with an uncertain end, by compiling and collecting the information we have obtained from all sources.” The report pointed out that Turkey will be the country most affected by the terms of an economically harsh Brexit, Gürsoy added that, “Bilateral efforts should continue to sign an free trade agreement between the UK and Turkey, immediately. The best scenario for us is for Britain to remain in the Customs Union.”