At a speech on 15 October 2019, at the 7th Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán urged the leaders of Turkic-majority nations to sign a deal with the United Kingdom following Brexit:

I would also like to say a few words about Brexit, which I would especially like to draw to the attention of the Turkic Council. No one can be sure, but I believe that Britain will leave the EU at the end of this month. So far, from a trade point of view, relations between British companies and members of the Turkic Council have been determined by relations between the European Union and your countries, because Britain has been a member of the EU. But now that the British are leaving, they are also leaving the European Union’s common trade policy. Therefore they will have to enter into new agreements with everyone – one by one. Naturally its trade relations with Hungary will be laid down in a future agreement between Britain and the European Union. But this will not be the case for you.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán then continued by advising the leaders of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to pursue their own trade deals with the United Kingdom.

So I advise the Turkic Council to think ahead and start negotiations with Britain as soon as possible on new British-Azeri, British-Turkish, British-Kazakh, British-Uzbek and British Kyrgyz trade agreements; because the opportunities for concluding such agreements will open up now. So far this has not been possible, but soon it will be. My advice is to prepare ourselves for this new opportunity, and, if possible, we should also coordinate it.

Reflecting the obsessive focus on a deal with the European Union, the Department for International Trade’s efforts at signing trade deals with non-EU states has fallen well short of expectations.

Of the Turkic nations, trade agreement negotiations are currently underway only with Turkey, in this instance a Customs Union.

In addition to Turkey, trade agreements are in the process of being negotiated with Albania, Algeria, Andorra, San Marino, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Georgia, Ghana, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine.

To date, trade deals have been signed with sovereign nation-states, namely Chile, Iceland, Norway, Israel, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, South Korea, Switzerland and Tunisia, and the Faroe Islands and Palestinian Authority. In addition agreements have been reached with the Andean countries, CARIFORM, six Central American countries, the Eastern and Southern Africa trade bloc, and Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique trade bloc. While there is an argument from economy of effort behind signing agreements with trade blocs, it certainly cuts against the spirit of Brexit to do so, and may well complicate their renegotiation at a later date.

There are no ongoing agreements with any of the other Turkic Council states.

Finally, mutual recognition agreements are in place with Australia, New Zealand and the United States. According to the UK Government website, “A mutual recognition agreement is one in which countries recognise one another’s conformity assessments. When conformity assessments are applied to products, they are tested to an established performance standard. Inspections, quality management, surveillance, accreditation and declarations of conformity also take place.” The UK-US Mutual Recognition Agreement primarily concerns telecommunications and pharmaceuticals, and concern has been raised that the inclusion of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in the MRA may have the effect of diminishing consumer protections in the United Kingdom.

Overall, the breadth and scope of the trade agreements negotiated by the United Kingdom is clearly disappointing. While delays to Brexit are unwelcome, they shall at least afford the Department of International Trade the opportunity to complete more trade agreements before Brexit day comes around.

Image details: Brüsszel, 2019. október 17.
A Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda által közreadott képen Orbán Viktor miniszterelnök (k) érkezik a visegrádi országok (V4) egyeztetésére az EU-csúcs ülése elõtt 2019. október 17-én.
MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher. 

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