Turkey has an immense and impressive economic potential
United States Consul General Jennifer L. Davis, who hosted the “Summer Meet” organized by the Turkish-American Business Council (TAİK), chaired by Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ at her residence in Istanbul’s Arnavutköy district welcomed her guests with this message: “It is an honor for us to encourage the strong economic ties between the U.S and Turkey.”
Davis underlined the increasing trade volume between the two countries but chose not to talk about the “customs tariffs” the U.S. imposed on products, particularly steel, imported from Turkey and Turkey’s response by introducing similar measures.
She said the bilateral trade volume increased by 18 percent to hit $20.6 billion in 2017 and this showed the power of the economic cooperation between the two countries. This increase in the overall trade volume was led by the 31 percent rise in Turkey’s exports to the U.S. We are looking forward to further strengthening our economic relations by our common efforts in the years to come.
While Davis was delivering his speech, I looked at the attendees. Rona Yırcalı, Ali Kibar, Hakan Binbaşgil, Haydar Yenigün, Kaan Terzioğlu, Sedat Aloğlu, Ali Eren, Agah Uğur, Prof. İlter Turan, Serra Akçaoğlu, Yılmaz Argüden, Şerif Egeli, Davut Ökütçü, Aylin Tülay Özden, and Nurdan Erbuğ.
Davis stressed Turkey has an impressively strong economy. She said that with its low public debt, young, and dynamic population, strong work ethic, and healthy entrepreneurship spirit, Turkey has an enormous economic potential.
She also said the 87 percent voter turnout in the June 24 elections was very impressive.
“The U.S. is looking forward to cooperating with Turkey to overcome our common challenges and to take our common interest a level further,” Davis said.
She admitted it was no secret that bilateral relations have been “a little bit complex.”
“At such times, we rely even more on associations such as the TAİK and their members. Each of us plays an important role as economic ambassadors between the two countries. We rely on all of us to build bridges between the two countries,” Davis said.
She noted that at times when the political rhetoric between the two countries becomes heated, TAİK could play a role.
“From time to time, you voice concern over U.S. policies and practices that may create problems for the Turkish economy. We take your concerns seriously and benefit from your advice to devise better policies,” Davis said.
She asked for TAİK’s support.
“We also rely on TAİK and its members to help us inform Turkish companies, the Turkish civil society and government officials about the U.S. and overcome misconceptions regarding the U.S.,” Davis said.
During her speech, the U.S. Consul General often talked about “common interests.”
Will the U.S. under the Trump administration take Turkey’s “interest” to the “same level” as that of the U.S.?
Will the Trump administration listen to what the Turkish component of TAİK has to say?
‘We are unhappy with recent developments’
TAİK chair Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ reminded that the council was founded in 1985 based on what then Prime Minister Turgut Özal said following a meeting with U.S. President Ronald Reagan: “We do not want more aid, we want more trade.”
Yalçındağ underlined that TAİK’s mission is to help increase the trade and investment volume between Turkey and the U.S.
“This is a very difficult task today. The two countries’ administrations and business communities are not happy about the recent developments between the U.S and Turkey. But we see that both sides have made efforts to improve the situation,” he said.
Yalçındağ said that based on their observation, the phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S President Donald Trump was positive.
“They are set to meet at a NATO Summit. We believe we will see some concrete steps to be taken aimed at improving relations,” he added.
Noting that Turkey-U.S. relations are going through difficult times, Yalçındağ sent out this message:
“We are all trying to do our best. We need to support each other more than ever.”