As the diplomatic traffic between Ankara and Washington continues to be busy, especially after the latter's sanction decision against two Turkish ministers Wednesday; the business world, including world giants, has stepped in for a resolution.
Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan Friday sat down with the representatives of 30 U.S. companies, including Apple, Boeing, IBM and Microsoft, at the Turkey-U.S. Economic Relations Consultation meeting, organized by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Ankara.
The U.S. on Wednesday sanctioned Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül for not releasing American pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey.
Turkey has rejected U.S. threats and called the sanctions unacceptable.
The Foreign Ministry strongly protested against the U.S. Treasury Department's decision, calling on the U.S. administration to reverse its "wrong decision."
Turkish business groups including the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), Turkish Exporters' Assembly (TİM), and Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK) also condemned the U.S. move.
Addressing the officials, Trade Minister Pekcan emphasized that Turkey's policy always favor and prioritize cooperation and stability. "Both Turkey and the U.S. should not allow conjectural crisis with no economic basis to preclude economic cooperation," she said.
Pekcan stressed that the Turkish economy offers great opportunities and the country will go through a technology-based transformation focused on producing added value. She further noted that the U.S. companies and U.S. capital may undertake significant roles in that transformation. "The two countries have a considerable bilateral trade volume. We hope that this partnership will continue and get stronger," she added.
According to U.S. law, those mentioned on the sanctions list will have their assets and properties under U.S. jurisdiction blocked and American businesses and individuals will be prohibited from engaging in financial transactions with them.
Turkey has detained Brunson on charges of spying for the PKK, recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and Turkey, and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). FETÖ, led by the U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, is behind the defeated July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that killed 250 people.
Speaking at the meeting, TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu said that Turkey and the U.S. are strategic partners. He hoped that this tough test will soon be overcome as was in the past.
Pekcan also drew attention to Turkey's unfair criticism. "The U.S. companies doing business in our country should promote the correct perception about Turkey. Our country has a tradition of a contemporary state of law. It will maintain its strong democratic culture, rapid economic growth and development momentum," she said.
According to the data of the U.S. Census Bureau, Turkey's exports to the U.S. were recorded at $9.4 billion while the imports from the U.S. reached $9.7 billion. Turkey's exports to the U.S. in the first four months of the year reached $4.1 billion and imports from the U.S. were calculated at $4.2 billion.
Minister Pekcan highlighted that the Turkish steel industry poses no threat to the U.S. and underscored that the two countries have a balanced trade volume in the steel industry. "The U.S. should cooperate with Turkey in the steel trade. In case Turkey faces unjust practices, the country will exercise its rights ensuing from international trade law and act on the principle of reciprocity, protecting its own economic interests," she said. For the resolution of bilateral problems, TOBB and American Chamber of Commerce will continue their negotiations. TOBB Head Hisarcıklıoğlu recalled that the bilateral ties between Turkey and the U.S. rely on strong traditions and said, "We have a history of strategic partnership based on mutual benefit."
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