Turkey, UK sign extend their free-trade deal

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NATO Alliance summit in Watford

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey and the United Kingdom extended their free-trade deal on Tuesday, days before Britain formally leaves the European Union, to keep up the existing flow of goods.

The trade ministers of the two countries signed the agreement in a televised videoconference call. It takes effect on Jan. 1, 2021, ensuring a quick transition after the existing deal ends at the end of the year, Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said.

British trade minister Liz Truss has said that she was hopeful a bespoke deal between the countries could be struck soon.

"We agreed the direction" toward an updated trade deal with the UK and would like to complete it "as soon as possible," Pekcan told Reuters after the deal was signed. "We are ready."

The UK trade ministry said on Sunday the extended deal would replicate existing trading terms. The trading relationship was worth 18.6 billion pounds ($25.25 billion) in 2019.

Last week, the UK clinched a narrow trade deal with the EU, its biggest trading partner.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)