With Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Turkey this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hoped that beyond the important political and military dialogues that took place, officials would also focus on the U.S.-Turkey commercial relationship. These economic ties are an often overlooked and underestimated pillar of this relationship—and one that would be wise to lean on and expand during these delicate times.
It’s no secret that the United States and Turkey are facing unprecedented bilateral challenges. Following the recent attacks and coup attempt in Turkey that have sent shockwaves through the region, the U.S.-Turkey strategic partnership is being tested politically, militarily, and also commercially.
The United States has made significant investments in its political and military relationship with Turkey, united by the NATO treaty and numerous bilateral and multilateral fora. Less well known, however, are the U.S.-Turkey commercial partnerships that contribute to Turkey’s vibrant economy and geo-strategic role at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Despite turmoil in the region, trade and investment linkages between the U.S. and Turkish private sectors are strong and growing. Approximately 1,600 U.S. companies have invested in or do business in Turkey. U.S. companies employ more than 60,000 employees in Turkey and use the country as an export base for more than 80 countries. Similarly, Turkey is a regional hub for American businesses that manage operations in more than 125 countries across Southeastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and the Caucasus—all from their offices in Istanbul.
Recently in Ankara, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with U.S. companies to assure them that Turkey will remain an attractive investment destination, and that Turkey knows how to separate business from politics.
The business community appreciated this message and Turkey’s commitment to economic reform. We have been pleased with the passage of labor, tax, and pension reforms in Turkey, and we believe it is more important than ever to continue to execute on structural reforms so that we can do more business together.
With Vice President Biden’s upcoming visit, the U.S. Chamber is calling on both the U.S. and Turkish governments to help facilitate new commercial opportunities in three specific ways.
- Accelerate structural reforms in Turkey to enhance the business climate and strengthen intellectual property rights for more innovation and R&D-dependent investments.
- Encourage Turkey to accelerate the modernization of its Customs Union with the EU to increase trade and investment flows, which would benefit many U.S. companies conducting business between the EU and Turkey.
- Reinvigorate the bilateral debate around an eventual U.S.-Turkey trade deal.
Commercial cooperation is critical to U.S.-Turkey ties, and we must use every opportunity to advance our shared economic interests. By engaging more on trade and investment, together we can reach a common ground to ensure that the three fundamental pillars of the U.S.-Turkey relationship—political, military, and commercial—emerge stronger and more stable than ever.
Myron Brilliant, Jennifer Miel, Contributor - Business Insider