Ford has welcomed the inking of a free trade deal between the UK and Turkey – a trading relationship which is particularly important to Ford's European light commercial vehicles (LCVs) business.

The UK and Turkey now have locked in tariff-free trading arrangements, which will support a trading relationship worth GBP18.6 billion in 2019.

The UK government says the agreement lays the groundwork for a more ambitious UK Turkey trade relationship in the future.

The deal will secure existing preferential tariffs for the 7,600 UK businesses that exported goods to Turkey in 2019, ensuring the continued tariff-free flow of goods and protecting vital UK-Turkey supply chains in the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

The agreement also ensures UK businesses can continue to import under preferential tariffs, compared with no agreement.

Vital UK-Turkey supply chains will also be protected for automotive manufacturers, such as Ford, which employs 7,500 people in the UK. Car parts are imported from the UK to Turkey to assemble the Ford Transit range of vehicles, a third of which are then exported to the UK. In 2019, UK car exports to Turkey were worth GBP174m.

Stuart Rowley, President, Ford of Europe, said: "Ford welcomes the announcement today of a trade agreement between the UK and Turkey, and the speed with which it has been concluded underscores its importance to the economic prosperity of both countries.

"As Europe's leading commercial vehicle brand, Ford's Dagenham engine manufacturing facility in east London exports much of its diesel engine production to our Ford Otosan joint venture in Turkey where the engines are fitted into Ford Transit vehicles, many of which are then exported from Turkey to the UK.

"Given that Ford and Ford Otosan business constitutes more than 10 per cent of the total trade volume between the UK and Turkey, this trade agreement is extremely significant for us and will help to secure jobs in both countries."

Andy Burwell, Director for International Trade and Investment at CBI, said: "Turkey's customs union with the EU made a trade deal with the UK complicated, but the pace at which the deal has been finalised following the negotiated EU deal shows the strength and depth of the relationship.

"Businesses and government must now look to growth, creating the trading relationships which will build a competitive, dynamic and progressive future economy."