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Turkey’s Leading Defense & Aerospace Technology Partner: The United Kingdom

Hosting the world’s leading defense industry companies and currently owning a quite vast and deep defense industry infrastructure including land, naval, air and space industries, the United Kingdom (UK) has recently turned into a leading defense & aerospace partner of Turkey that collaborating with Turkish Defense and Aerospace industry in country’s leading next generation stealth fighter jet MMU/TF-X, to incorporate technologies able to address threats beyond 2035, and twin-seat, single-engine new generation supersonic Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) HURJET. British companies are among top 3 suppliers that supply some important subsystems, avionics and equipment within the scope of these two Programs.

Issue 109

Even though experienced a 9.9% shrunk in its economy in 2020 due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the United Kingdom (UK) still has the 5th largest economy in the world (with £1.96 Trillion GDP, based on 2020 figures) and is a very important trade partner for Turkey. The UK is also playing a critical role in Turkey’s economy. Turkey and the UK have a trade partnership dating back centuries. In 1581, the Ottoman Empire granted the first preferential agreements, known as capitulations, to English traders. The bilateral trade volume between the countries is in favour of Turkey as Turkey has been achieving surplus in its foreign trade activities to the United Kingdom since 2001. According to 2019 data, the UK ranks 2nd among the list of countries, which Turkey exports the most goods to, and 9th in the list of countries from which Turkey imports the most from. According to data released recently by the UK Department for International Trade the value of total bilateral trade in goods and services between Turkey and the UK stand at £19.4 Billion (value of exports was £7.8 Billion and value of imports was £11.6 Billion, the value of trade volume between the UK and Turkey in 2019 was previously disclosed as £18.6 Billion by the UK Government) in 2019, which made the United Kingdom, Turkey’s second commercial partner with the highest export volume after Germany. The main products, which Turkey exports to UK, are gold, textiles, garments, electrical and non-electrical machinery, motor vehicles and parts, iron and steel products, insulated wires, cables and other electric conductors. The main imports from the UK are diesel and semi-diesel engines, automobiles, tramp iron/steel and their ignores, medicinal and pharmaceutical products to be used in treatments and protection. Ranked as the 5th biggest foreign investor inside Turkey, the UK is also one of the countries with one of the most investments in Turkey. Today more than 3.000 British companies operating in Turkey, including giants such as Unilever, Shell, BP, Vodafone, HSBC, Airbus Defense & Space (ADS), BAE Systems, Caterpillar Defense UK (CAT UK), Inmarsat, Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and Thales UK. Some 7.600 British firms export to Turkey. The total amount of direct investments from UK to Turkey during 2002-2019 was US$11.120 Billion and during the same period Turkish investments in the UK was US$2.969 Billion. 

While Turkey has been constantly increased its exports to the UK during 2009 – 2016 (from US$5.9 Billion to US$11.69 Billion), according to data released recently by the UK Department for International Trade and Turkish Ministry of Commerce the bilateral trade between the two countries has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown measures globally during 2020 and thus experienced a decrease of some 22% or £4.3 Billion compared to 2019. But trade between the two countries has entered a recovery trend again during the first half of 2021. According to 2020 data, the UK ranks 4th among the list of countries, which Turkey exports the most goods to, and ranks 11th among the countries that Turkey imports. According UK Department for International Trade data the value of total bilateral trade in goods and services between Turkey and the UK stand at £15.1 Billion (value of exports was £6.0 Billion and value of imports was £9.1 Billion) and trade gap weigh against UK was approximately £3.1 Billion) in 2020.