This site contains information from January 2009-December 2014. Click HERE to go the CURRENT website.

Remarks at American-Turkish Society Gala

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker
Remarks at American-Turkish Society Gala

Thank you, Chairman Dincer, Chairman Koprulu, and Mr. Ciliv.  

It is also an honor to share the stage with Minister Simcek, who has drawn widespread praise for his leadership. 

For example, I heard that he was recently recognized as Finance Minister of the Year by Emerging Markets magazine.  Congratulations.

I have had the opportunity to go to Turkey on several occasions – most recently last year.  

I had the opportunity to meet many of your business leaders including Chairman Dincer to discuss investments in Turkey.  Of course, that was before I took my current job.  

Since we are here at the New York Stock Exchange, I should begin by noting that it is no surprise to me that Turkey’s financial industry is growing.  And the U.S. Government is proud to be actively sharing best practices and supporting Turkish leaders as they build Istanbul into a global financial hub.

Of course, our commercial and economic ties are blossoming in many additional ways.
For example, just last week, a delegation of more than 20 Turkish business leaders came to Washington for the Commerce Department’s first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit.  

Our message was – and is – clear.  We welcome investment from Turkish companies into the United States.

This year, Ozkan Steel announced its plans to invest $150 million in a plant in Louisiana to support the shipbuilding industry…• and Borusan Mannesmann broke ground on a new Texas facility to manufacture pipes for shale gas production – also valued at $150 million.

At the same time, U.S. businesses continue to invest in Turkey.  
Dow, 3M, and General Electric have all recently made significant Turkish investments.

All told, more than 1,000 U.S. firms of all sizes have offices in Turkey.  

I am confident that even more American businesses will look to do business in Turkey due to the country’s growing economy – an economy in which net-growth-per-capita has more than tripled in just a decade.

As we invest more in each others countries, our trade relationship has also flourished.  

In fact, bilateral trade has increased by 75 percent since the Obama Administration began in 2009.  It now stands at about $20 billion dollars.

Looking forward, we can and should uncover even more ways to build on our burgeoning commercial and economic ties.

However, to take our relationship to the next level – and to achieve Turkey’s 10 by 23 goal – we must address tough issues.
As a business leader for 27 years, I believe that we must focus on listening to CEOs in both countries in order to address our challenges.

By deeply and consistently engaging with our business leaders, we in government can identify, understand, and overcome the barriers to further bilateral growth.

Already, our private sector leaders are raising awareness of the best ways we can unleash the full potential of our relationship:

  • They are asking for more efficiency and transparency in the government procurement process.
  • They want us to resolve regulations and market access issues, including those in industries like agriculture and pharmaceuticals.
  • They need strong and enforceable intellectual property protections – including patents and copyrights.
  • And they know that providing genuine incentives for companies to invest in Turkey is a much better approach than requiring offsets that distort trade.

Working collaboratively across our public and private sectors, we can effectively address all of these issues and more.

On that note, I am confident that we can make substantial progress through the work we are doing in the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation, or FSECC.  

As some of you know, this is the United States and Turkey’s bilateral cabinet-level dialogue on economic cooperation.  

Already, the FSECC has played an important role in bolstering our overall trade relationship – and in promoting more cooperation in areas such as energy-efficiency and transportation infrastructure.

We are hoping to hold the next meeting in Washington in early 2014. 

I have asked my team to find ways to ensure that the meeting is effective and outcomes-driven. 

I also look forward to hearing new recommendations from the U.S.-Turkey Business Council – an impressive group of top business leaders from both countries.

I want to emphasize that you in the private sector have an important role to play in encouraging our governments towards greater commercial access and a true level playing field.

Ultimately, I want to hear more stories like General Electric’s partnership with Tulomsas, the Turkish railcar manufacturer. Through that partnership, locomotive kits from Pennsylvania are being assembled in Turkey and then re-exported to Central Asia and beyond.

I also want to hear about more American businesses that are bringing their experience to the table to help Turkey continue to thrive.    For example, I know that some U.S. firms are interested in serving as partners on major Turkish projects such as Istanbul’s third airport.  

Those are great examples of the kinds of mutually-beneficial relationships that will help both Turkey and the United States prosper in the 21st century. 

These blossoming ties create a long-term foundation of political and economic friendship.

Finally, I will just note that this past May, President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan re-affirmed their commitment to our bilateral relationship by launching the U.S.-Turkey High-Level Committee.

This Committee will be an important complement to our work with the FSECC.  Among other things, this Committee will keep Turkey informed on developments with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – which I know Turkey has expressed concerns about.

And I should note that key reforms in some of the areas I have mentioned will prepare the way for expanded U.S.-Turkish trade and investment, no matter what legal framework for managing that relationship we ultimately develop.
Let me close by saying that there is a common theme being repeated around the Commerce Department.  

Our message is that America is Open for Business.

I think that the community here tonight has a unique opportunity to show that we share common values, particularly when it comes to commerce.

Let’s send a clear message to the world that both America and Turkey are Open for Business.

That’s the message that the world heard here at the New York Stock Exchange back in 2000, when, for the first time, a Turkish company represented by the letters TKC (Turkcell) appeared on the screens.

The Golden Age of U.S.-Turkish relations is dawning– and we have only scratched the surface of our potential.

Thank you again for inviting me to be here.  I look forward to building the American-Turkish friendship in the months and years ahead.