Representatives from the defense and aerospace industries of Turkey and the U.S. came together in Ankara Monday.
In his address at Turkey-U.S. Aerospace and Defense Industries Meeting, Presidency of the Defense Industry (SSB) Vice Chairman Serdar Demirel pointed to the change that has emerged in relations between Turkey and the U.S.
Calling on the U.S. to "develop together and expand to third countries," Demirel noted that Turkish and American companies are inextricably connected to each other and are conducting mutual production and design work.
He emphasized that the Turkish defense industry has become one of the top 10 defense industry producers in the world, switching from common design and production to unique design over the last 15 years, saying, "We expect to increase the number of Turkish companies to five among the top 100 defense industry companies in the world. Our relations with the U.S. have reached the point of ‘what we can do together' as appose to ‘what we can buy from you.'"
Demirel expressed his desire that the cooperation and trade volume between the two countries would increase with the new projects to be put forward in the defense industry.
Speaking at the meeting, William Czajkowski, the commercial counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, pointed to the importance of aerospace and defense industries both in Turkey and the U.S. He underlined that it is vital for both countries to work together in these industries.
Emphasizing that the private sector makes significant contributions to the strategic cooperation between the two countries, Czajkowski said, "In this regard, both parties are willing to cooperate with the private sector in Turkey, and this is a win-win scenario. We want to support, encourage and expand this cooperation further. We have been holding large-scale trade events in Turkey, which focus on the defense industry."
Khush Choksy, senior vice president for the Middle East and Turkey affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said they believed that the high-level trade dialogue between the two countries should be continued this year.
Highlighting that it is good for both governments to come together and hold economy-related meetings on a periodical basis, Choksy stated, "At the Chamber of Commerce, our priority will be to reinstate dialogue with members of Congress and to emphasize the importance of Turkey. We had a series of meetings last year, and we will continue to hold meetings this year. The business world will help both parties, Ankara and Washington, understand each other better."
Faik Yavuz, a member of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Chairmanship Council, said the two countries have been moving in the same direction, with the exception of several divergences on the United Nations.
Indicating that the relations have improved in economic terms in the general sense, Yavuz continued, "Our trade volume is growing. U.S. companies are boosting their investments in Turkey and vice versa."
The trade volume between the two reached around $20.68 billion in 2018. Turkey's exports to the U.S. stood at some $8.3 billion, while its imports amounted to around $12.38 billion, according to Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data.
Emphasizing that TOBB and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been holding joint events to support the strengthening of relations, Yavuz said, "However, from time to time, we witness developments that test our relations and poison our relations. We see problems in our cooperation on Syria. We want to work more with our ally, the U.S., on issues that directly affect Turkey's national security right beside it. On the other hand, the fact that the concept of ‘trade wars' has gained momentum again and is being implemented step by step is disturbing us in the business world. The countries which the U.S. imposes import restrictions on are the countries which the U.S. has a trade deficit with in the general sense. However, in Turkey-U.S. trade, the U.S. is constantly running trade surplus."
Indicating that they spoke on the restriction imposed on iron and steel imports from Turkey, Yavuz said this is extremely sad.
Calling on U.S. business world representatives, Yavuz stated, "We want your support. Let us embrace our mutual trade and investment relations. Let us maintain our position as a bridge in relations between our countries."
On the other hand, TOBB Defense Industry Assembly Chairman Yılmaz Küçükseyhan stressed that Turkey learned "how to fish" instead of "how to eat fish" in the Turkish defense industry because of embargoes inflicted in 1974 and after.
Underlining that this development has helped cover 68 percent of the Turkish defense industry's needs through domestic means, Küçükseyhan stated, "We aim to increase this rate to 80 percent in the next 5-10 years. We think we will reach 80 percent with the power package, the aircraft engine and modernization work."
Küçükseyhan called on U.S. business world representatives to lobby for the continuation and enhancement of relations between the two countries on the basis of the values they rely on.