U.S. Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Istanbul today to meet with U.S. and Turkish business leaders to advance commercial and trade relations between the United States and Turkey. This is the first visit to Turkey by a U.S. Commerce Secretary in 14 years.
Acting Secretary Blank, along with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, are leading a delegation of senior U.S. Government officials, including representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, U.S. Export-Import Bank and the National Security Staff.
Throughout the meetings and events, Acting Secretary Blank highlighted President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan's goal of elevating our commercial relationship with Turkey to the strategic level, contributing to the peace and prosperity of citizens of both countries and the world.
Acting Secretary Blank and Ambassador Kirk met with U.S. companies that are active in the Turkish market to hear their views on the commercial environment in Turkey, and learn how the U.S. government can help grow their businesses, and support jobs and growth in Turkey and in the United States.
Turkey is a priority for the Obama administration and a key market in reaching the National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014. Turkey offers numerous opportunities for U.S. exporters. The Turkish economy has grown rapidly in recent years—Turkey is the second-fastest growing economy in the world—and the Turkish government is investing heavily in various sectors, including infrastructure, for the centennial anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023.
U.S.-Turkish trade grew by 34 percent last year, reaching a record level of almost $20 billion. U.S. exports to Turkey rose 38 percent, totaling $14.6 billion, making Turkey the 21st-largest U.S. export market.
Acting Secretary Blank delivered luncheon remarks at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), one of the largest business organizations in the world, where she highlighted the opportunities for U.S. businesses in the Turkish market. U.S. companies, she said, are poised to provide innovative, quality American products and services to meet the growing Turkish demand, particularly in expanding sectors such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as infrastructure. Blank also noted that challenges in U.S.-Turkish economic relations remain in the areas of market access, transparency, predictability and intellectual property protection.
Later in the day, Acting Secretary Blank met with several key members of the Turkish business community. She spoke with existing and potential Turkish investors about SelectUSA, the first federal government-wide initiative to attract international business investment to the United States. Blank said the U.S. welcomes more bilateral foreign direct investment flows and joint ventures. Investment in the United States would lead to increased trade between the two countries. U.S. foreign direct investment in Turkey has been relatively steady at $6.3 billion stock in 2009 with room to grow.
Tomorrow, Acting Secretary Blank and Ambassador Kirk will co-chair the second meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC) in Ankara. The FSECC is the only cabinet-level mechanism for discussion of U.S.-Turkish commercial and economic relations. President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan agreed to create the FSECC in December 2009 to elevate the U.S.-Turkish commercial relationship. Acting Secretary Blank and Ambassador Kirk will meet with senior Turkish government officials to continue framing the terms of our economic and commercial relationship based on a positive agenda that will lead to economic growth and shared prosperity.
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