The $75 billion trade volume target set by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump was welcomed by Turkish and American businesspeople. On Feb. 4-8, a delegation of 52 American businesspeople visited the Turkish capital Ankara and met their Turkish counterparts, discussions were held on how to accomplish the bilateral trade volume of $75 billion, which currently hovers slightly above $20 billion.
The visit of U.S. businesspeople came prior to the 37th Joint Annual Conference of American-Turkish Council (ATC) Turkish-American Business Council (TAİK), scheduled to be held on April 14-16.
Within the scope of the Ankara meetings, Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) President Nail Olpak, TAİK Chairman Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ and ATC Chairman Gen. James Logan Jones led the deliberations on the development of economic relations between Turkey and the U.S.
In addition to the $75 billion trade volume target set in our economic relations during the visit with a highly busy agenda, several talks were held on U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and many areas concerning the two countries.
Jones and Yalçındağ stated that they perceived the $75 billion trade target set by the two presidents as a duty and they would immediately start working on this issue. The infrastructure works for a possible trade agreement that has an important role in achieving this target should start immediately.
In line with the target set by the presidents, in addition to the trade agreement, DEİK President Nail Olpak also stressed the importance of both the Turkish and American business worlds to create projects that will raise the bilateral economic relations to the desired levels, adding the ATC and TAİK will be the partners who will resolve the problems with backdoor diplomacy and take proactive steps by moving their business units to a more project-oriented point.
Jones, Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, DEİK President Nail Olpak, Yalçındağ, as well as U.S. Chamber of Commerce Middle East and Turkey Department Senior Vice President Khush Choksky, were present during the visit. The delegation included representatives from giant companies such as Amazon, Apple, Cargill, Citibank, Dow, Facebook, GE, Microsoft and IBM. Yalçındağ stated that Ankara had a very busy week in terms of Turkish-U.S. economic and commercial relations and that they made very effective contacts prior the annual conference, expressing his appreciation about the fact that the ATC, the counter-wing organization of TAİK, visited Turkey with a strong staff.
The delegation later met with Erdoğan and first lady Emine Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker Binali Yıldırım, Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alparslan Bayraktar and Defense Industry President İsmail Demir.
President Erdoğan received the delegation members at the Beştepe Presidential Complex on Feb. 7.
During the meeting, Jones expressed his wish to boost the partnership between TAİK And American-Turkish Council (ATC) to a different level, as well as his desire for the two institutions to act as a platform to develop proposals for the two heads of state on Turkish-American economic relations.
Jones further stressed relations remain focused on politics and defense industries too much, suggesting more cultural relations-oriented activities. He added that culture, academia and art should also be present at this table and that they are willing to carry out an event with TAİK similar to the Tatlıdil Forum.
Later in his speech, Jones pointed to the importance of organizing promotional tours to different U.S. states. Noting that they aim to conduct an annual delegation visit to four states in different regions of the U.S. regularly, Jones said they can organize many delegation visits to Turkey as well. Yalçındağ, on the other hand, said they established five state committees under TAİK, adding the Turkish business community expects to take part in these committees.