When the formal talks finally begin, the first order of business will be protecting the complicated “just-in-time” supply chain that moves cars and so-called “white goods,” such as household appliances, across the continent.
Officials will then explore opportunities for deepening trade in sectors that are yet to be heavily regulated by Brussels, such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
But Dr Pinar Artiran, a professor of international law at Istanbul Bilgi University, warns that if the talks break down, then the cost of Turkish goods will increase, and there may be delivery delays.
“Nobody would like that scenario because we will all start trading on WTO [World Trade Organisation] terms, and it is not enough. If it were, countries would not be rushing to sign trade agreements,” she says.
“For example, currently, if a car engine comes to Turkey from Italy or Germany, and the car is assembled and then exported to the UK, there is no customs duty. But without a trade deal you would have to apply the customs duty and that would be reflected in the price, which would make products more expensive.”
She adds that a key component of Turkish trade, which would need to be negotiated before a deal with the UK, is an “upgrade” of its relationship with the EU.
For example, Turkey’s road haulage industry has complained that quota limits on their lorries imposed by Greece and Bulgaria are severely restricting trade flows.
Alper Özel, a spokesman for Turkey’s International Transporters Association, says it would be very difficult to unlock the potential of UK-Turkey trade unless red tape is peeled back from EU transit countries.
“We have no quota limitation with the UK, but we do with Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and others, and this is the battle right now,” he said.
“If we exceed the transit quotas [in those countries], then we have to choose other routes to reach England, so going through Poland or Romania. It takes much longer and that means it’s more expensive. It’s not favourable to the Turkish economy, or the UK economy.”