UK to double trade credit with Turkey post-Brexit, as Europe turns away on 'ethical' grounds

UK to double trade credit with Turkey post-Brexit, as Europe turns away on 'ethical' grounds
The UK's credit agency said it would double funds available to facilitate trade with Ankara, a move that Germany said would 'send the wrong signal'.
2 min read
03 August, 2017
Turkey's Prime Minister Yildirim agreed to increase trade with the UK in January [AFP]

The UK's export credit agency has agreed to double financial assistance available to help boost trade with Turkey, post-Brexit.

UK Export Finance's (UKEF) signed a deal with the Export Credit Bank of Turkey (ECBT) to raise the limit to £3.5 billion ($4.6 billion) on Wednesday – just days after Germany said the European Commission should suspend trade negotiations with Turkey.

Berlin said the move would 'send the wrong signal' in a draft paper.

The UK appears to be less concerned with the quickly deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey however, where attacks on the country's Kurdish population are regularly reported in the international media.

Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan defended the government's relationship with Turkey at a foreign affairs select committee in Parliament in February.

Speaking on Westminster's 'unique' relationship with Ankara, Duncan said the relationship was due to a "respect" for Ankara in trying to deal with the fallout from last year's military coup.

"Whereas everyone else was rather quick, from the comfort of their armchairs, to wag their fingers, we tried to understand exactly what the coup attempt really was," said Duncan.

"This singled us out, certainly from the rest of the European Union but also from many other countries."

The Turkish ambassador to the UK said his government highly appreciated Westminster's understanding and support following the attempted coup in July 2016.

President Erdogan announced in January that Ankara would increase trade with the UK from $15.6 billion a year to $20 billion.

And Turkey is not the only country with a dubious human rights record that Westminster wants to target.

The UK government will fight tooth and nail to protect arms companies

According to UKEF's business plan for 2017-2020, other 'priority' markets include Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and the Philippines, while one major priority sector was, rather unsurprisingly – 'defence and security'.

"The UK government will fight tooth and nail to protect arms companies," said Andrew Smith, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

"The UK government has not just sold weapons [to these countries] it also gives an unbending and unreserved full political support as well."

According to CAAT, the UK sold Turkey £1 billion ($1.3 billion) worth of weapons between 2008 and 2017.

The UK government agreed to increase the maximum permitted size of UKEF's portfolio to £50 billion ($66 billion) in November.