Theresa May is meeting with Recep Erdogan to begin talks for a UK-Turkey trade deal
The Prime Minister was flying direct to Ankara, the Turkish capital, following her meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington.
Downing Street sources said Mrs May was expected to begin discussing “a new trade relationship” with Turkey following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
It means Turkey joins 13 other countries that have begun working on new trade deals with the UK ahead of the expected departure from the bloc in 2019.
The two governments have already agreed to establish a joint working group to begin preparations for a new trade deal.
Mrs May will also discussed increased security cooperation, airline security and counter terrorism.
Officials last night dismissed suggestions that Mrs May should not engage with President Erdogan following his crackdown on the press and opposition after a recent failed military coup in Turkey.
The PM is in Turkey straight after having met with President Trump for the first time
“We see Turkey as an important ally,” the Downing Street source said.
We see Turkey as an important ally
Downing Street source
The alliance between Britain, Canada and the US can be the cornerstone of liberty and free trade for the world, International trade Secretary Liam Fox told an audience in Toronto.
In a major speech in Canada, Dr Fox has hailed an “exciting new era” for Britain and the world as the UK throws off the shackles of Brussels in the next two years.
He joked that his department, which was only created nine months ago and now has 1,000 staff, is the “biggest start up in British history” as the UK sets out to start negotiating trade deals again.
His speech came after the European Commission admitted that it wants Britain to have a similar trade deal as the much vaunted one it signed with Canada late last year.
The concession by EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström underlined that threats to “punish” Britain for Brexit are being quietly dropped in Brussels with hardliners including European Parliament chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt sidelined.
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The two leaders will spend about an hour in face-to-face talks in the Oval Office, where President Trump has restored a bust of Winston Churchill removed by predecessor Barack Obama.
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President Trump Meets With British PM Theresa May At The White House
Dr Fox told his audience of politicians and business leaders in Canada that he is confident of getting a free trade deal with the EU.
He also promised that the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) signed between the EU and Canada can be improved on with the UK once it leaves the EU.
CETA gives Canada 98 per cent tariff free trade with the single market but it does not have free movement of people and does not pay any money to the European Commission.
Dr Fox said: “The signing of CETA at the end of last year was a great moment for global free trade, coming as it does at a time when a chorus of protectionism is rising across the world.
“It was a particular moment of pride for the United Kingdom, and for many in our Government and public services who have worked tirelessly for years to ensure its smooth passage.”
The meeting has received criticism due to Erdogan's crackdown on free speech after last year's coup
He pointed out that CETA is worth around £1.3 billion a year to the UK, and some £7.3 billion from the EU to Canada.
“We have every intention of continuing to honour its clauses as the United Kingdom opens a new chapter in its history,” he said.
“We will also seek, as far as possible, to replicate the EU trading schedules as we take our independent seat in the WTO, maintaining current tariff levels with a view to seeking further liberalisation over time.”
Heralding the prospects for the future he said the UK Government is “greatly encouraged” by the Trump administration’s desire to have a free trade deal quickly with Britain.
Theresa May's cabinet members have also been working on trade deals with Canada and the EU
He said: “The UK is as committed to free and open trade with the US as we are with Canada.
“The three-way trading and investment alliance between Canada, the UK and the USA is vitally important not only to our own prosperity, but to the stability of the free trading world.”
He also made it clear that while Britain wants to have a good relationship with what remains of the EU, it is time to “reforge” its relations with old allies including Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as other parts of the Commonwealth.
South Africa has already made it clear this week that it wants to have free trade deal struck quickly with the UK.