A catalyst for transformation
Czech President Vaclav Klaus (R) addresses the audience at a TOBB event in Istanbul as Turkish President Abdullah Gül (L), Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan (2nd R) and TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu (2nd R) listen. AA photoSince 1952, as the highest-level representative of the Turkish private sector, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) has been supporting domestic political and economic reforms. TOBB serves its 1.4 million members through 365 local chambers and commodity exchanges and 59 sector-specific assemblies.
TOBB believes that the economic success is in the hands of the entrepreneurs. Being aware of the importance of entrepreneurship, TOBB established the Women Entrepreneurs Board and the Young Entrepreneurs Board, and mobilized about 10 thousand entrepreneurs under these bodies.
Moreover, TOBB has always been an outward looking actor to develop sound regional integration policies. Increasing the visibility of the Turkish private sector has always been the main objective. The more people trust in the virtues of Turkish entrepreneurs, the easier it will be for us to do business abroad. Building mechanisms for sustainable business dialogue, especially in troubled times is one way to do this.
Contributing to peace
Within this framework, TOBB established the Ankara Forum in 2004 to bring together Palestinian, Israeli and Turkish businessmen. The international community, both the global media and multilateral organizations, have acknowledged Ankara Forum as one of the most effective and innovative dialogue mechanism contributing the peace process in the Middle East. Ankara Forum has been quite successful in formulating doable projects. TOBB-BİS company (BİS, meaning “Industry for Peace”), which is registered in Ramallah, will transfer Turkey’s know-how in developing and managing Industrial Zones to Palestine.
TOBB has established another dialogue mechanism, called the Istanbul Forum, to bring together businessmen from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey. There is an ongoing effort for the first concrete project of the Istanbul Forum – a railway line between Istanbul and Islamabad. This project would provide a low-cost, fast logistics alternative to connect Pakistan to Turkey and thereby to Europe.
This project is also a part of the Revitalization of the Silk Road Initiative, which is now on the agenda of TOBB and many countries in the region. The idea is to reconnect China and Europe by increasing the inland transport capacity of the Central Asian countries. TOBB has unique experience (with GTİ) in developing and managing Turkey’s border crossings with Georgia, Bulgaria, Iraq and Syria. This experience would be very important to increase connectivity among the Silk Road countries.
Reaching new markets and building strong business ties are the key issues of TOBB’s international agenda. The Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK), which was established by TOBB, and 109 bilateral business councils have been the driving force behind Turkey’s market development. One of the key issues of Turkey’s upcoming reform agenda entails improving access to the more sophisticated markets around the globe. TOBB believes the American market, among others, will be a key venue to boost Turkish exports. Within this framework TOBB is working closely with the American authorities and business community in the scope of the Partnership for a New Beginning (PNB) Initiative.
Rooted in U.S. President Barack Obama’s vision for a New Beginning, PNB is a collection of public-private partners committed to deepening economic and social engagement between the U.S. and local communities.
Throughout Turkey’s transformation process, TOBB has also built strong ties with our European counterparts in cooperation with Eurochambres. TOBB is also working closely with the Islamic Development Bank and Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
These are just the tip of the iceberg, a small fraction of our consistent work. For a great 60 years TOBB has worked for Turkish entrepreneurs. Hereafter, TOBB will continue to devote itself passionately and proudly to the service of Turkey.