Allies and Partners: Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the United States
Strengthening the economic relationship with two important allies in the Caspian region was the purpose of a recent visit by Deputy Secretary of Commerce David A. Sampson to Azerbaijan and Turkey.
by David Levey
David A. Sampson, deputy secretary of commerce, visited Azerbaijan and Turkey on June 4–8, 2007, underlining the close economic and trade ties the United States has with those two countries. In Azerbaijan, Sampson attended the 14th International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference in Baku and met with the president, Ilham Aliyev. In Turkey, he met with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and other government officials in Ankara and later traveled to Istanbul.
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|David Sampson, deputy secretary of commerce (second from right) with officials in Baku, Azerbaijan, on June 4, 2007. Behind them is a specially outfitted bus donated by McDonalds to a center for handicapped children. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
Azerbaijan: Energy Revenue Fuels Economic Growth
Azerbaijan is an important ally in the fight against terrorism and is located at a key juncture between Europe, the Middle East, and Russia. A moderate, progressive Muslim nation, Azerbaijan has recently seen its economic fortunes rise. In 2006, it was the fastest-growing economy in the world, increasing its gross domestic product by 34 percent and more than doubling its international trade.
Much of this growth can be attributed to Azerbaijan’s enormous energy reserves. It is just beginning to experience the effect of more than $250 billion of energy revenues that are expected during the next decade. Those resources have the potential to transform Azerbaijan’s economy and the standard of living of its 8.4 million people.
“The question now is how wise leaders can use this historic opportunity to provide a foundation for a diverse, prosperous economy that can fulfill the dreams of the nation,” said Sampson in a speech he gave in Baku to the American Chamber of Commerce on June 4, 2007. While in Baku, Sampson also attended a corporate social responsibility event held at a McDonald’s restaurant. At the event, McDonald’s donated a specially outfitted bus to a center for handicapped children.
In Turkey, Education and Globalization
Near Azerbaijan is another U.S. partner, Turkey. For more than 80 years, the United States and Turkey have been allies, trading partners, and friends. In recent years, the economic component of the relationship has been increasingly important, with broad-based growth in trade and investment.
During his trip to Turkey, Sampson visited Istanbul, where he spoke at a conference hosted by the American Business Forum on the importance of innovation to Turkey’s growth. According to Sampson, “We need to continue to focus on doing all we can to ensure that entrepreneurship and innovation are rewarded and encouraged in both our countries.” This encouragement includes modernizing and strengthening education and training, increasing intellectual property rights enforcement, and eliminating uncompetitive policies with respect to licenses and employment.
Sampson also talked to students at Bahçeşehir University about their role as leaders in Turkey and in a challenging international business environment that is full of opportunities. “Your education is a ticket to becoming a global citizen, something you can now achieve without ever leaving Turkey. No longer will you have to make a choice between high earnings and global reach on the one hand, or remaining in Turkey on the other.… [T]here is always a need for enlightened leadership, and that door is now open to you,” Sampson said.
Room for Trade Growth
In 2006, Turkey was a larger market for U.S. exports than Russia. But the economic relationship has much more potential. For example, in 2006, U.S. trade with Turkey was less than a third of that with Belgium, a country with about the same gross domestic product as Turkey but with only 15 percent of its population.
Both Azerbaijan and Turkey are countries that are primed for growth. Both are allies of the United States and have made tremendous progress in transforming their economies in ways that have just begun to unlock their true potential.
David Levey is a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.