Turkish business group urges free trade deal with US

Published 17.01.2019 23:49
Updated 18.01.2019 00:09

The positive trend in Turkey and U.S. relations is expected to benefit economic and commercial ties between the two countries in the upcoming period.

A Jan. 14 phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump was welcomed by the Turkish business circles as the two leaders agreed to advance bilateral economic ties.

"[We] Also spoke about economic development between the U.S. and Turkey – great potential to substantially expand," Trump wrote afterward on Twitter.

"The current trade volume figure of some $20 billion is inadequate, we have to change the rules of the game," Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ, chairman of the Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAİK) said. A free trade agreement between Turkey and the U.S. will boost bilateral trade, he told Anadolu Agency (AA).

The U.S. ranked fifth among Turkey's top 20 export destinations with $8.6 billion in 2017. It was the fourth-largest source of Turkey's imports with $11.9 billion the same year.

Between January and October last year, exports to the U.S. were recorded at $6.7 billion, while the imports from the world's largest economy stood at $10.2 billion.

Turkish-U.S. relations had a promising start in 2019 both politically and economically, Yalçındağ added. He noted that he has no doubt that the two leaders will take concrete steps and be very "consistent" on advancing economic relations. "Now the two presidents are talking about the economy, as well as the big potential here and increasing the trade volume. You will see, they will be very ‘consistent' in these issues, they will take concrete steps," he said.

The business world needs to work much harder and develop vision in the development of economic relations between the two countries, he said, indicating that the trade volume between the two countries remains pretty low considering the U.S. economy is worth $19 trillion.

Yalçındağ added that even though a free trade agreement may be a difficult process, sitting down for this agreement alone, even starting to negotiate, would give a "great" boost to economic relations and open up new doors. He informed that a free trade agreement will be on the agenda of the 37th Annual Conference on U.S.-Turkey Relations to be held by the American-Turkish Council (ATC) and TAİK on April 14-16 in Washington.

The U.S. is one of Turkey's major commercial and economic partners. It is the second source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Turkey.

According to the Industry and Technology Ministry's FDI statistics, Turkey has received $11.5 billion in FDI from the U.S. in the last 16 years. The ministry's data also show that currently, 1,853 companies with U.S. capital operate in Turkey.

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