UK, Turkey set to sign trade accord embracing steel, automotive sectors

The UK is set to sign a trade agreement with Turkey Dec. 29 aimed at ensuring the tariff-free flow of goods and protecting vital UK-Turkey supply chains in the automotive, manufacturing and steel industries, sources close to the UK Department for International Trade told S&P Global Platts Dec. 28.

The agreement will be “significant” for both countries and will secure preferential tariffs for the 7,600 UK businesses that exported goods to Turkey in 2019, the UK government sources said.

“The deal we expect to sign this week locks in tariff-free trading arrangements and will help support our trading relationship, worth £18.6 billion last year,” Liz Truss, the UK’s International Trade Secretary, said in a statement. ”It will provide certainty for thousands of jobs across the UK in the manufacturing, automotive and steel industries. We now look forward to working with Turkey towards an ambitious tailor-made UK-Turkey trade agreement in the near future, as we aim to open new global markets.”

Turkish steel sources told Platts they hoped the accord would correct Turkey’s steel trade deficit with the UK. International steel trade sources Dec. 28 questioned what stance the UK would now take to the European Union’s provisional antidumping duties to be imposed next month on imports into the EU of hot-rolled coils from Turkey, given that the UK on Sept. 30 introduced its own steel-import safeguards system, based on the methodology of the EU system, ahead of the end of its transition period to exit the EU on Dec. 31.

DIT said the new UK-Turkey deal is the fifth biggest deal it has negotiated – after deals with Japan, Canada, Switzerland and Norway.

The signing of the accord is subject to European Union approval on Turkey’s side, which is expected to be a formality, the UK sources added. This will be the first new trade accord to be signed by the UK since it reached a trade agreement with the EU on Dec. 24, days before the end of its Brexit transition period.

Preparations for the signing of a free trade agreement between the UK and Turkey were at a final stage, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Dec. 25.

Turkey seeks to correct steel trade deficit

Veysel Yayan, general secretary of the Turkish Steel Producers’ Association, said Dec. 28 the association “hopes that the trade deal will remove the imbalances in steel trade between the two countries, as Turkey faced trade deficit in steel trade with the UK in the six of the last 10 years.”

The UK is Turkey’s second largest trading partner following Germany in general terms. This week’s trade deal is expected to improve trade relations between the countries by removing the uncertainties after Brexit, Turkish steel industry sources said.

Turkish mills imported 122,100 mt of hot-rolled coil from the UK in the first 10 months of 2020, up 12% on year, while Turkish mills’ HRC exports to the UK fell by as much as 87% on year to just 7,000 mt, Turkish Statistical Institute data showed.

Turkish mills’ coated coil exports to the UK also fell significantly in the same period: by 78% on year to 22,300 mt, while mills’ pipe exports to the UK fell sharply by 40% on year in that period to 97,300 mt.

Turkish mills’ rebar exports to the UK totaled 13,300 mt in January-October 2020, sharply down from the 83,400 mt exported in the same period of the previous year, the data showed.

The UK is one of Turkey’s largest scrap suppliers. Turkish mills imported 1.85 million mt of UK scrap to Turkey in the first 10 months of 2020, up 4% on year.

— Diana Kinch and Cenk Can