Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael C. CamuÑez
Market Access and Compliance
"U.S.-Turkish Economic Relations in a New Era"
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
As prepared for delivery.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be with you today. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to address you at the launch of this important study. It goes without saying that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an important voice on issues affecting the business community. The Chamber’s leadership is vital to advancing the business community’s interests in Turkey and throughout Europe. Thank you Peter Rashish for your leadership as well as John Steele of Eli Lilly, the Chair of the U.S.-Turkey Working Group.
I also want to thank Deputy Chief of Mission Timur Soylemez and TUSIAD—the Turkish Industry and Business Association—for partnering to create this report. It is only through business collaboration like this that we will meet our mutual goals of enhancing two way trade and investment. I also want to recognize Sidar Global Advisors for their insightful analysis in this report and credit them for their two way perspective on the bilateral relationship.
In my role as Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the International Trade Administration, I have the privilege and responsibility for traveling the globe and working with our international trading partners to deepen our strategic trade and commercial relationships to our mutual benefit. Out of a global portfolio, Turkey is among my highest priorities.
I traveled to Turkey for one of my first international trip as Assistant Secretary in January of 2011, and I came away convinced of the importance of this bilateral relationship and its importance. The opportunity in Turkey is palpable. Furthermore, events in the region and the global economy over the past year have reinforced this perception, making it clear to me that this is Turkey’s moment.
Over the past months, Turkey has further elevated its role as a crucial geopolitical ally. It remains one of the United States’ most important NATO allies and bears a great and growing responsibility in this critical region of the world. With the Arab Spring’s political and social movements sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey is a model for the region and has demonstrated important global leadership.
Turkey also has an impressive economic story to share. In the past ten years, the economy has grown by over $500 billion and GDP per capita has tripled, making Turkey the 16th largest global economy. In the first quarter of 2011, it boasted the fastest growing economy in the world, expanding by a staggering 11%. Now a member of the G20, it continues to be the fastest growing economy in Europe. This has opened up commercial opportunities outside of the traditional business center of Istanbul, with entrepreneurs and capitalists emerging from budding industrial cities in the Turkish heartland.
And Turkey is not content with its recent economic success. Ankara has set the ambitious goal of becoming a top ten economy by the year 2023—the 100th anniversary of the modern Turkish Republic. This grand economic development strategy is commonly referred to as “10 by 23.” Achieving these objectives will require a tripling of the economy, and significant new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), thereby creating extensive opportunities for U.S. firms.
U.S.-Turkey Commercial Relations Overview
The confluence of these three elements—Turkey’s geopolitical position; economic growth; and ambitious economic policy goals—have made it an exciting time for me to serve as Assistant Secretary. I could not agree more with this report’s title’s reference to “a new era” in U.S.-Turkish economic relations.
As important as our relationship is, the reality is that, to date, the U.S.’ commercial relations with Turkey have not kept pace with our close political and military ties. That is why the Obama Administration, and the Department of Commerce especially, have placed a greater emphasis on deepening U.S.-Turkish economic and commercial relations.
During President Obama’s April 2009 visit to Turkey, his first visit to Europe, he agreed with Turkish President Gul to build a “model partnership” and raise our economic relationship to the strategic level, matching the depth and breadth of our political and military relations. To demonstrate this commitment, the U.S. and Turkey launched a new Cabinet-level Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC), co-chaired on the U.S. side by Commerce Secretary John Bryson and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.
Turkey is also one of a limited number of priority markets under President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI). Increasing trade and investment ties with Turkey will help achieve the NEI’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014, thereby supporting millions of U.S. jobs and improving the Turkish people’s access to the world-class products and services offered by U.S. businesses. And, as members of the business community, you may have also heard that we formed a U.S.-Turkey Business Council, which had its inaugural meeting in September of last year in Istanbul. The goal is to create a formal mechanism for the private sector to provide input into the FSECC process. I note that strengthening the platform for private sector engagement is one of the report’s key proposals.
The result of the increased importance both governments have placed on commercial relations is improved bilateral trade. This progress is borne out in recent trade figures: 2011 was a record setting year with $20 billion in total trade, up 34%.
Both countries have much reason to be emboldened by these figures; and, it is important that we sustain this commercial momentum, for there is still much potential to be realized.
Utilizing the FSECC
The Governments’ primary vehicle for building upon this momentum will be through the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC). The FSECC makes good on President Obama and President Gul’s pledge to elevate commercial relations to a high level dialogue on trade and investment issues.
The first meeting of the FSECC was in October of 2010 in Washington, and I know Secretary Bryson is looking forward to co-chairing the next meeting in Turkey sometime this year.
It is an opportunity to elevate the relationship; to take our discussion beyond trade irritants; and to make it more strategic and forward looking. Conducting business as usual will not move the U.S. beyond Turkey’s 5th biggest trading partner; we believe that concentrating on topics such as bilateral foreign direct investment (FDI), regulatory cooperation, and innovation will. We need, as the report suggests, to deepen our collaboration on a range of issues.
Reaction to the Report
So let me just say a brief word about this important report. Reports like this one are critically important as we utilize the FSECC process. Most importantly, we need the business community to bring its experiences, analysis, and recommendations to bear—just as this report has done—for it is the basis of policymaking. We are very appreciative of the thought that went into this report, and we will take it to heart.
We are looking carefully at the recommendations. While I can’t endorse at this point specific proposals, I can tell you that there are many good ideas to consider. First, I agree that we should take a careful look at critical sectors that promise opportunity. For example, I lead a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Trade Mission last December.
I particularly agree with the report’s idea of using Turkey and the U.S. as a bridge to access third markets, especially through joint ventures. I think Turkey is uniquely positioned as both a political and economic leader in the region, and would be well served by partnership with the U.S. companies’ world class technology and expertise in third markets.
Also, the suggestion that the Turkish and U.S. export promotion strategies be aligned to accomplish mutually set goals is exactly right. I can tell you that both governments are enthusiastic about collaborating to realize our twin ambitions of the National Export Initiative and the 10 by 23 Framework.
at is most important, and what is clearly demonstrated in the thinking behind this report, is that the discourse be elevated to a strategic level. We have a real chance to improve economic ties in a meaningful way.
Turkey is full of opportunity. With its burgeoning economy, strong banking sector, young and educated workforce, and geostrategic location as a bridge to North Africa and the Middle East, the time is ripe to advance our commercial relations, using the FSECC.
By elevating the discourse of the U.S.-Turkish relationship to a strategic, forward looking level based on thoughtful recommendations like these, we aim to create robust bilateral trade and investment ties for sustained, long-term growth. Thank you TUSIAD and the Chamber for all of the energy, time, and thought that went into this report and thank you for joining me today. I’m happy to take questions.
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