Rt Hon Liam Fox MP in Ankara

“Free trade agreement between Turkey and the UK should be completed as soon as possible”

(via www.tobb.org.tr)

United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, as a part of his Turkey visit, met with the business community at the “Future of Turkey-United Kingdom Trade Relations” meeting.​

At the “Future of Turkey-United Kingdom Trade Relations” meeting organized by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), post-Brexit economic relations between the two countries were evaluated.

Minister of Commerce Ruhsar Pekcan, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu and the United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox gave speeches at the meeting held at the TOBB reception hall.

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu noting the serious lack of direction of the trade relationship between Turkey and United Kingdom, said, “It is our desire that United Kingdom’s leaving of the EU, with or without a deal, will not adversely affect their economic relations with Turkey. Let’s not regress in terms of trade.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that trade relations with the United Kingdom, one of the largest economies of the world, is always important and holds priority.

As a part of NATO, the two countries work together on many international issues, such as fight against terrorism and illegal migration, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Support for Turkey’s EU accession process by the United Kingdom government has always been appreciated by our business community. We remember and give thanks for the support of the United Kingdom government for our democracy during the treacherous coup attempt of July 15th.”

Reporting that the United Kingdom is one of the countries which has invested most in Turkey, Hisarcıklıoğlu continued: “Starting with our 19 billion USD trade volume, we should aim for 30 billion USD in the first stage. Approximately 10 billion USD of United Kingdom investments in Turkey is an indicator of confidence in the country’s economy and future. Likewise, Turkish entrepreneurs have invested in the United Kingdom at around 2.6 billion USD. Therefore, Turkey and the United Kingdom are important trade and investment partners.”

– “Let’s not regress in trade.”

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu noting the serious lack of direction of the trade relationship between Turkey and United Kingdom, said, “It is our desire that United Kingdom’s leaving of the EU, with or without a deal, will not adversely affect their economic relations with Turkey. We are undoubtedly all of us respectful of the decision of the people of United Kingdom to leave the EU. Our companies doing business with the UK are concerned in this respect. Let’s not regress in terms of trade.”

Pointing out the need to finalize the legal infrastructure of trade between Turkey and the United Kingdom, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The most appropriate commercial model in this regard is free trade. A free trade agreement between Turkey and the United Kingdom should be completed as soon as possible.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu added that the free trade agreement would not only reduce customs duties and quotas, but would also help to overcome non-tariff barriers to goods and services.

– United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox

United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox noting the long history of trade relations between the two countries, stated that Turkey has become one of the UK’s most important trading partners in recent years.

Pointing to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s words that merchants should be worthy of trust, Fox said, “Trust is the most important touchstone of trade.”

Fox underlined that they attach great importance to the United Kingdom’s relations with Turkey, which stand at either end of Europe and that as a country which is no longer a part of the European Union (EU), they regard these relations even more highly.

During the West’s global economic and political instability in the mid-20th century, Fox stated that they found a partner in Turkey, and that they will make efforts to strengthen relations with Turkey. Fox said, “Therefore, our economic relation with Turkey is very important, which I’m not saying to be kind. This relationship is very important for the rest of the world and for Europe.”

Stating that Turkey is an important partner in G20 and NATO, Fox pointed out that United Kingdom was one of the first countries to reach out to Turkey following the July 15th coup attempt.

Fox, noting that they want to work better with the companies in Turkey and they also encouraged British companies to invest in Turkey, said, “The stronger Turkey is, the stronger our economic and political partnership will be.”

Pointing out that they will be leaving the Customs Union along with the EU, Fox stated that they want to develop an independent commercial system and that Turkey would be an important partner in this regard. Fox said, “We are leaving the EU. While we were in the EU, we were one of Turkey’s most important allies, now will be one of its most important partners in the world.”

– “Brexit is an opportunity not a threat to our relations with Turkey”

Fox, reporting that 44% of the United Kingdom’s exports is conducted with the EU, said they do not want to damage relations with the EU and a reasonable agreement is important to them.

Pointing out that Turkey is a very important country for trade in this process, Fox said, “Brexit is an opportunity not a threat to our relations with Turkey.”

Stating that, along with Turkey, they provide a very significant contribution to the world in terms of global trade and regional security, Fox said, “The foundation of our relationship will never change. We will always stand against protectionist trade policies.”

– Minister of Trade Ruhsar Pekcan

Minister of Trade Ruhsar Pekcan pointed out that the two dynamic economies of strategic importance at both ends of Europe and their strategic interests in the region are always compatible with each other, said, “As the trustees of two great economies and cultures, we hope to further these relations.”

Emphasizing that Turkey, in particular the last 15 years, has brought great dynamism in its economy, its annual exports increasing to 168 billion USD, 48.6 billion USD in services exported, Pekcan went on:

“I hope together with you we will raise these figures much higher. The UK is one of the global economy’s founders. As Turkey we wont to improve our economic relations with the United Kingdom, and collaborate especially in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, the Balkans. I hope our relations in this regard will continue to grow. As Turkey we are committed to investing in technology, brand and design in the 21st century. We want to see British businessmen as our partners in business and vision.”

Pekcan, stating that the United Kingdom has always been one of Turkey’s most important trading partners, after Germany with 11.1 billion USD, reported that imports from the United Kingdom amounted to 7.5 billion USD with a focus on technological imports from the UK.

Pekcan stated that uncertainties about Brexit are causing concern for the Turkish business world and said, “We have been working together with our our British interlocutors since 2016, we have established our trade working groups, and we continue to work this day. Whether or not the Brexit process is finalized with or without a deal, we will work on how we can contribute to our trade relations. Of course, we expect a deal. We are waiting for the steps to be taken in the UK Parliament regarding the arrangements at the end of this process (between the EU and the UK) A no-deal exit will quite adversely affect our business world. Turkey’s exports are projected to decline about 25% in this scenario.”

London Mayoral Candidate Shaun Bailey with the Turkish community

We were delighted to support ITSEB’s (Association of Turkish Speaking Health Professionals in the UK) seminar focusing on mental health awareness. London Mayoral Candidate Shaun Bailey was a keynote speaker at the closing session. IAKM Britain Alevi Culture Centre and Cemevi in Hornsey kindly hosted the event and there was a wide participation from across the community.

Shaun Bailey at the IAKM Britain Alevi Culture Centre, London (18 May 2019)

Shaun then visited the Turkish Religious Foundation of the UK (Ingiltere Turk Diyanet Vakfi), also in Hornsey, and joined UID’s Iftar dinner with HE Turkish Ambassador Ümit Yalçın, Consul General Çınar Ergin and the Turkish community.

Shaun Bailey at Ingiltere Turk Diyanet Vakfi, London (18 May 2019)

Neva Sadikoglu-Novaky and Jonathan Werran: Brexit gives the chance to have full fiscal devolution

Neva Sadikoglu-Novaky is visiting fellow at Localis and Jonathan Werran is the chief executive of Localis.

Published: May 7, 2019 on www.conservativehome.com


There are two strong arguments for why Brexit is an opportunity to pursue fiscal devolution.

Firstly, regardless of how everyone voted in the referendum, the post-Brexit reality will be one in which we will have to decide if we continue down the path of localities being kept dependent on leftist redistribution policies or if we pursue the Conservative philosophy of empowering them fiscally.

Secondly, it is worth noting that it would be a betrayal of those who voted to leave the EU, were controls and responsibilities vested in Brussels to be simply transferred wholesale to the remote Whitehall empire. A centralist command and control system that stifles the promise of fiscal and economic devolution is by no means what voters understood by taking back control.

So radical and purposeful localism should be the default operating system for the post-Brexit political economy. From a perspective of national renewal, it really comes down to a matter of choice how we passport regulations, controls and economic development monies from the centre to our localities.

Our local government is currently hugely dependent on fiscal redistribution – local businesses and individuals pay taxes that are collected nationally with a small percentage then being sent off to Brussels. This money is then redistributed back from Brussels and Whitehall to our localities with much bureaucracy along the way. Our government is bringing in the Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the EU’s structural and investment funds that targeted regional development but the redistributed regional handouts from this new Fund are not to be sniffed at. Given the UK’s status as a net contributor to EU coffers, it would be fitting, as Kwasi Kwarteng has argued, for this to be a baseline from which we could offer a generous Brexit dividend. It would be fitting, but not sufficient.

We need to rethink not just how we devolve and decide on matters that support place prosperity, but also how we finance local projects. This means liberating our areas from the dead hand of a decision-denying Treasury and the fiscal straitjacket of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

We don’t need to rehearse the international statistics that the UK among is the most centralised among all developed nations. Ministers are keen to point out that local government now accounts for more than a quarter of total public spending, but this is still lower than the OECD average. Most importantly, local government raises less than five per cent of total tax revenue – mainly from those tried and trusted regular sources, council tax and business rates.

Council Tax remains ossified to property bands set by Chris Patten. While we are partying like it’s 1992, the leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Nickie Aiken can only lament a top charge of £1,500 per annum on Hyde Park properties worth a cool £100 million. Meanwhile, in Leave-voting stronghold Gateshead in the north east, where the median salary of a resident is a full £21,272 less than in Westminster, Council Tax is more than double that in the Conservative flagship borough for a top-band property.

Business rate retention is a positive step towards decentralisation. However, it is far from enough to meet the twin pressures of rising demand and fewer resources. As part of a suite of local tax-raising powers, business rates could be a key fiscal policy lever for councils, but in isolation and with councils otherwise constrained, the policy is of little overall effect.

We need to be bolder in our vision for local government finance and strive for tax competition. Why shouldn’t our cities in the north, for example, who are finding it hard to attract businesses and subject to a brain drain, not be able to levy taxes for businesses and households so as to give themselves a competitive edge? If we did allow for such tax competition, we might finally start seeing more balanced growth. From among the 30 OECD countries with comparable data, we have the sixth highest regional economic disparities and between 2000 and 2016, we experienced the fourth largest increase in disparities.

Through fiscal competition, we could truly have a Northern Powerhouse and give our Northern cities a fairer chance at competing with the likes of London and the south east. The appeal of Ireland – an EU English speaking country offering low taxes – may even be curbed through English local tax incentives that would stand at stark contrast to the EU’s efforts to harmonise taxation policy among the EU member countries.

Naturally, a baseline and an upper limit for such taxes would need to be agreed. In Germany, the base rates of taxes which the regional government can levy are agreed between the regional and federal government. German regions have taxes that they levy and keep like vehicle tax, lottery tax, inheritance tax, real estate purchase tax and beer tax. There are others that they share with their federal government like the personal income tax, corporate income tax and value added tax and part of this shared tax is then redistributed to support the poorer regions. We could pursue a similar model that would allow for some level of continued redistribution, while giving the space for tax competition to work its charm.

Socialists will warn against tax competition saying it could lead to a race to the bottom, but Conservatives should look much more warmly to a system that could help achieve a race towards lower taxation.

Meet Shaun Bailey

I’m Shaun Bailey, and I’m running to be your next Conservative Mayor of London

– Growing up in council housing and experiencing up close the devastation that crime can have on communities, I understand why it’s important to give everyone the opportunity to succeed in life.
My family first came to this country as part of the Windrush Generation. My grandfather fought for Britain in the Second World War and came here to work hard and contribute to this great country.
I understand that when we are given opportunities, when we work hard, and each contribute to shaping our city, that we as Londoners can achieve our full potential.
I want to use the wide powers of City Hall to deliver true leadership and help everyone achieve a genuine stake in society.
I have dedicated my working life to this cause. For two decades, I have worked tirelessly with communities to help improve the life chances of London’s poorest. I was a youth worker in Ladbroke Grove for many years, where I helped disadvantaged young people move away from a life of crime by providing job opportunities.
I also worked with the government to help implement national policy that boosted the life chances of the most vulnerable.
I currently serve on the London Assembly, representing Londoners from across the whole capital and exposing the mayor’s broken promises.
Unfortunately, under Sadiq Khan, many people in the capital feel that our city, our home, has taken a backward step.
Violent crime is spiralling out of control and many feel less safe to walk the streets.
Housebuilding has flatlined, with young people abandoning their hope of ever getting on the housing ladder.
The constant talking down of London on the world stage has shaken confidence at a time when we need someone who will be its champion, both at home and abroad.
London is the most vibrant city in the world. It is the engine of the British economy and the heart of our national government. I want to help all Londoners have a stake in society, regardless of background, so that together we can shape our city’s new global future.
I want to be your Conservative mayoral candidate to give our capital the leadership it deserves. I hope I can count on your support.