Liam Fox has pledged to strengthen the UK’s ties with Turkey as he attempts to lay the path for a post-Brexit trade deal.
The international trade secretary met his counterpart Ruhsar Pekcan in Ankara on Tuesday to cement the UK’s “historic bond” with Turkey.
Striking a post-Brexit trade deal with Turkey will be tricky as its customs union relationship with the EU does not cover all of its economy.
Writing in Wednesday’s edition of The Times Fox called for a separate deal to be done between the UK and Turkey, outside of any agreement between London and Brussels.
He wrote: “Turkey has been identified as such a key market that it was one of the first countries to be sent a specialist in-country UK Export Finance (UKEF) representative to ensure the fabric of our trading ties are being tightly woven. And £3.5 billion of UKEF financing is now available to support UK-Turkey joint projects.
Fox added: “We recognise that the best outcome is an agreement between the EU and the UK, which sits alongside a bilateral trade agreement between Turkey and the UK.
“This bilateral agreement will support both of our economies, protect jobs and strengthen our vital trading relationship.”
Turkey’s economy has proved volatile in recent years, amid a backdrop of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan clamping down on press freedoms, political opponents and central bank independence, after defeating an attempted coup in 2016.
The Turkish lira lost almost a third of its value against the US dollar in 2018, leading inflation to soar to around 20 per cent.
The increasingly restrictive tactics of Erdogan have halted Turkey’s ascension to the EU, despite Leave campaigners highlighting the prospect of the country joining the bloc in the run up to the 2016 Brexit referendum.