Posted at 12:50 PM
Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. I want to recognize and thank my fellow FSECC co-chairs: Deputy Prime Minister Babacan and Minister Zeybekci as well as my colleague Ambassador Froman.
Before we begin, let me offer my sincere condolences on behalf of the American people for the terrible mine tragedy in western Turkey. Our thoughts and prayers are with the miners, their families, and the rescuers who are working right now to free the miners still trapped inside. We mourn with Turkey because the ties between our citizens have become extremely strong in the 21st century, and – today – the same can be said of U.S.-Turkish commercial and economic ties.
Today, we had a frank and productive discussion on how to strengthen the links between two of the world’s most dynamic economies. We are fulfilling the commitment by Presidents Obama and Gül in 2009 to elevate our commercial and economic relationship to the strategic level. The ties among our businesses and our citizens have never been more vibrant. Our bilateral trade is nearly $19 billion – nearly triple that of just a decade ago. But we can do much more to create the conditions for prosperity and good jobs in both countries. In other words, we are only scratching the surface.
Today, we explored how to take our relationship to the next level, by promoting greater bilateral investment (through programs like SelectUSA), creating a stronger business climate in areas such as public procurement and the pharmaceutical industry, and helping more businesses thrive in sectors where opportunities are growing quickly, such as infrastructure, clean energy, aerospace, and defense. In addition, we heard from the U.S.-Turkey Business Council – a group that provides our governments with input from business leaders in both countries. We plan to take action on their recommendations which include workshops on regulatory processes and tendering requirements, technical exchanges on trade policy issues, and several new projects in the renewable energy and energy efficiency space.
Overall, the four of us realize that the long-term economic goals for both of our countries are increasingly intertwined – and we must continue to support each other in order to achieve those goals. For example, the United States is supporting Turkey in its ambitious quest to become a top 10 global economy by 2023. In addition, America’s businesses are eager to offer high-quality products and services to Turkey and its people. Our companies want to build mutually-beneficial partnerships with Turkey’s government and business leaders.
Clearly, the Commerce Department has never been more engaged in helping U.S. businesses build those relationships. For example, our new Assistant Secretary for Global Markets, Arun Kumar, just returned from his very first trade mission. He went to Turkey with 17 businesses from America’s medical technologies and healthcare sector. The trade mission participants had more than 400 meetings with potential partners. Also, just over a year ago, the head of our International Trade Administration led a delegation of 18 aerospace-and-defense-sector businesses. The relationship that flowed from that mission resulted in dozens of deals valued at nearly $50 million. And today, I am pleased to announce that, in September, I will lead a delegation of CEOs who serve on President Obama’s Export Council to Turkey, as well as Poland.
Based on the fruitful discussions we had today – and based on my past visits in which I experienced the warmth of the Turkish people – I am confident that this trip will be a success. Ultimately, I know that – together – we will continue to create greater opportunities for our businesses and citizens in both Turkey and the United States. I will turn the floor to Deputy Prime Minister Babacan.