Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
Opening Session: U.S.-Turkey Business Council
Monday, September 19, 2011
As prepared for delivery
Good morning. It’s an honor to be here in Istanbul with so many partners and friends, both old and new.
I’d like to thank Economy Minister Caglayan for his important words today, and for his leadership.
Allow me to also thank my fellow Co-Chair of the U.S. - Turkey Business Council — Undersecretary Yakici — for all the work he has put into this important inaugural meeting.
Over the past four days, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling throughout Turkey — seeing places and meeting with people.
More than ever, I understand why its founder — Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — once said “How happy is he who calls himself a Turk.” In that same spirit, today — on behalf of the United States — I’m happy to call myself a friend of the Turks.
Over the years — in good times and bad— Turkey has been a tremendous friend to America. Our cultural and military ties are deep. And, of course, our economic partnership has led to prosperity and progress — for both sides.
Just last year, the U.S. and Turkey conducted nearly $15 billion in bilateral trade — the most ever between our two countries. The benefits are flowing both ways. Turkey has an increasingly dynamic economy.
It achieved 11% year-on-year growth in the first quarter — which made it the world’s fastest growing economy during that period. It has embarked on a major clean energy initiative — aiming to produce 30% of its power needs from renewable resources by 2023. And, Turkish Airlines is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world.
Those are just some of the reasons we want to do business here. As many of you know — last year — President Obama announced the National Export Initiative. The goal is to double our exports by the end of 2014.
And, one of the markets we want to significantly increase trade with is Turkey, thereby supporting jobs and spurring growth. So, this partnership benefits our commercial interest. But, like all good deals, it also benefits yours. I deeply believe that U.S. companies and products will play an important role in Turkey’s long-term development.
In fact — in order for Turkey to accomplish its goal of becoming a top-ten economy by 2023 — it will have to triple the size of its economy and there is a role for U.S. companies to play in that growth.
Thus far, our firms have directed $6 billion in foreign direct investment here, and there is potential for so much more. That’s why the United States is committed to working even closer together, to both seize these opportunities and tackle the great challenges of our time.
When President Obama visited the Turkish Grand National Assembly Complex — as part of his first overseas trip — he spoke about the global economic crisis.
He said that “No one nation can confront these challenges alone, and all nations have a stake in overcoming them. That is why we must listen to one another, and seek common ground.”
“That is why we must build on our mutual interests, and rise above our differences. We are stronger when we act together.”
And, he’s right. That’s why, in December of 2009, President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan launched the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation.
I know; it’s a long name. But, it will have a big impact. This framework ensures that high-ranking officials — from both our governments — are regularly coming together, acting together and working together to enhance both our positions in the global economy.
It’s yet another sign that our governments are committed to closer cooperation. But, that alone is not enough. In order to truly maximize the potential of our commercial relationship — our companies must work closely together, too. And, that’s why the U.S.-Turkey Business Council was formed, only the third of its kind in the world.
In this room today, we have executives from some of the most successful and most innovative companies in the world. You represent different industries and different regions. And, you come here today with more than just your impressive résumés — you also come with unique perspectives and ideas as well.
You can help our governments answer some simple questions: What can we do better? How can we be even more efficient and responsive to your companies?
In short, today we seek solutions. And, I’m confident that this dialogue will provide some solutions — that this new conversation will lead to new ideas and new economic partnerships.
I want to end by thanking all of the companies for their participation today, and as we move forward. In particular, I want to thank the co-chairs — Rick Johnston from Citigroup and Günsan Çetin from Pera International — for their leadership.
And, I want to acknowledge all the staff — from both governments — for their work to put this together. Your hard work is going to payoff. The words spoken today will lead to action tomorrow, which will lead to greater economic opportunities in the future.
So, let’s get started. Enjoy the conversation. And, I look forward to hearing your feedback this afternoon.
Thank you .
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