Top business group hopes to ‘energize’ Turkey’s EU bid

Top business group hopes to ‘energize’ Turkey’s EU bid

Gila Benmayor PARIS
Top business group hopes to ‘energize’ Turkey’s EU bid

When asked about this March 8 photograph with two of her female predecessors at TÜSİAD, Symes said it was a ‘privilege.’

Turkey’s top business group hopes to “energize” Turkey’s accession process with the European Union, its head has told daily Hürriyet.

“We want to energize the EU process, which is currently in deep freeze partly due to the global economic crisis,” Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) head Cansen Başaran Symes said during her first foreign trip with the group’s top officials.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet during a recent lunch in Paris, Symes said the TÜSİAD delegation had come to France to accept the invitation of its French counterpart, MEDEF.

“We discussed the issue of Turkey’s EU membership process during our meetings in Paris,” she said, adding that they had made it clear during the talks, including with MEDEF President Pierre Gattaz, that the Turkish business world strongly backed the continuation of the accession process.

“We have always said the EU is an important anchor for Turkey to accelerate reforms. It is also important for the investment environment in Turkey,” Symes said, while stressing that French President François Hollande’s recent visit to Turkey had yielded “good results.”

“Targeting an increase in the bilateral trade volume from $14.5 billion to $20 billion has become a positive motivation for both sides,” she said, stating that French business people “looked very keen” about investing in Turkey.

TÜSİAD’s French counterparts were also interested in learning about the Turkish public’s perspective regarding the EU process, according to Symes.

Kurdish problem, corruption

Symes’ first seven weeks as the head of TÜSİAD have seen a hectic schedule. Before this first trip abroad, she jointly launched the World Bank’s report for Turkey in February with Martin Raiser, the Bank’s country director for Turkey, and actively supported March 8 Woman’s Day campaigns.

Speaking in France, Symes said TÜSİAD expects the Turkish economy to grow by 3-3.5 percent this year, and also places utmost importance on the country hitting its inflation target.

She also said a peaceful solution to the long-running Kurdish problem could contribute an additional dividend of one percent growth for the national economy.

“This is a contribution that should not be overlooked,” Symes said.

TÜSİAD has also been closely following the issue of corruption in Turkey, bringing the problem to its agenda in 2013-2014 and publishing a detailed survey on the issue in November 2014.

“I think corruption is a part of a whole. Dealing with it requires improvements in income distribution, preventing economic inequality and developing education, as well as legislation,” Symes said, voicing TÜSİAD’s expectation that Ankara would adopt viable “anti-corruption policies” during its term at the helm of the G-20.