The Turkish business world is rolling up its sleeves for a major new project in the U.S. and seeks to establish an industrial zone to contribute to the expansion of the presence of Turkish companies in the U.S. market and yield new opportunities for economic and commercial relations between Turkey and the U.S.
Turkish-American Business Association-American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (TABA-AmCham) President Ali Osman Akat and Vice President Süleyman Sanlı spoke of the latest developments in economic relations between Turkey and the U.S., the current state of investments and trade and the grand industrial zone to be established in the United States in an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah.
Akat said they are currently doing book building that they aim to complete by the end of this year and meet with Turkish industrialists and business people that have had an opportunity to enter the A
merican market. He said they aim to end negotiations in the U.S. regarding the project and get ready for manufacturing between 2020 and 2023.
As part of the preliminary preparations for the project, the organization is determining the most suitable states in terms of convenience, managerial benefits, university cooperation, tax advantages and logistics. It seeks to select the state that offers the best advantages and supports the project.
"We have made an analysis on which products to send to which state and where to carry out the production. We have carried out various meetings with states in the U.S., from North Carolina to the region of Texas near the border with Mexico. From all these states, Texas in the first stage seems the most suitable state. However, we have not yet made our final decision," Akat explained.
Akat said they aim to establish a mixed industrial zone in this organized industrial zone, from chemical department, plastics department, textile, aviation industry to food industry as well as a technopark. The OIZ will also consist of a fair center, a trade center for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), an e-commerce warehouse, social areas, a logistics center and administrative offices. "We aim to start with 500 firms. We aim to provide our companies with an opportunity to exhibit their products for 365 days in the fair center," Akat said. This will provide an indirect marketing opportunity to buyers who come for the supply of different goods.
He said that the trade center for the SMEs will offer new markets to SMEs that are not able to produce and invest in the industrial zone but have the ability to take part in the international market with various products.
Akat said some 2,000 SMEs would have a marketing opportunity and win new customers thanks to the platform.
As for the e-commerce warehouse, it will offer an opportunity to do e-commerce, which is the inevitable result of consumption and integrated with artificial intelligence, to investors in the industrial zone and to companies that need to have a warehouse in the U.S.
According to the TABA-AmCham chairman, it will be a project that will create between 25,000 and 50,000 jobs and contribute to the GDP of the country.
Turkish firms should
increase presence in the U.S.
Turkey's total foreign trade with the U.S. is around $20 billion, which corresponds to 0.5 percent of the $4 trillion total foreign trade volume of the U.S., according to a report prepared by the organization.
On the other hand, Turkey's total foreign trade volume with Central and South America is around $9 billion, corresponding to around 0.04 percent of the $2 trillion foreign trade.
It suggests that the relevant figures suggest that there is much progress to be made and to determine new targets. It also claims Turkey should increase its share in the U.S. as well as international markets by determining a new road map and making investments.
According to official statistics, Akat said around 3,000 Turkish firms carried out exports to the U.S. for the first time last year, indicating that only around 220 of these continued and made second and third round of exports.
"This situation stemmed from insufficient market research, research on laws and regulations related to products in the U.S. Sustainable exports are important here. Companies should make their activities and products suitable for the U.S. market or actually go and eventually continue their trade from there," said Akat.
He stressed that now Turkish companies should increase their presence in the U.S. market and globalize, establish some of their production chains there and eventually extend.
Evaluating relations, Sanlı noted that they look at the latest developments from the economic and commercial perspective.
"Now, we observe that the U.S. is moving from the obligations brought by the World Trade Organization [WTO]… It has introduced some obligations such as additional tariffs; these should not be read as political. For instance, it has introduced additional steel tariffs even on steel and aluminum products from South Korea, with whom it does not have any political issues," he said, noting that they see it as a move from the U.S. to boost employment and again attract investments to the country.
In this sense, total exports of Turkey-based companies to the U.S., currently standing at around $9 billion, should be doubled, according to Sanlı, who said the figure clashes with the educational, cultural and military collaboration between the two countries.
The U.S. is a huge market, Sanlı said, noting that this should be evaluated seriously and that exporters should carry out state-based and customer-based research there. He said the organization has organized various meetings across Turkey to guide companies and introduce them to the American market.
Speaking of the investments that companies from the two countries carried out in each other's countries, Süleyman Sanlı, vice president of TABA-AmCham, said they have contributed to the investments of 1,702 U.S.-based companies in Turkey.
"While the total value of the investments, in the beginning, stood at around $6 billion to $7 billion, these companies have now reached a commercial size of approximately $85 billion to $90 billion after the investments started," said Sanlı.
TABA-AmCham was founded in 1987 to contribute to the improvement of commercial, economic and cultural relations between the two countries by providing opinions and practices in trade, economy, finance, industry and similar issues to Turkish and American business circles.
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