By Jose W. Fernandez* - The tempo of economic engagement between Turkey and the United States is steadily increasing. There is a level of excitement that translates into potential cooperation in many areas – from renewable energy to developing the financial sector, promoting new and existing small and medium sized companies, and economic cooperation in third countries. While U.S. trade with Turkey was sharply impacted during the economic downturn, two-way trade has risen by 37.8% to $5.6 billion for the first five months of 2010.
As much as 25 percent of Turkish exports enter the U.S. duty-free each year under the General System of Preferences (GSP) program. In 2009, the United States imported over $644 million in goods from Turkey under the GSP program. President Barack Obama and President Abdullah Gul recognized the potential for our cooperation to grow and prosper when they agreed to raise our economic partnership to the strategic level during their first meeting in April 2009. Following this commitment, we held the fifth meeting of the Turkey-U.S. Economic Partnership Commission on June 8 in Ankara, which Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Undersecretary Hakki Akil and I co-chaired.
This new strategic economic partnership has a number of concrete components:
Turkey is one of six “Next Tier Markets” identified as priorities by President Obama’s New Export Initiative (NEI). This initiative recognizes the importance of Turkey's market to the United States and provides resources for identifying growth opportunities in specific sectors.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) has identified Turkey as one of nine countries with extraordinary potential for U.S. exports. Our goal is to offer attractive financing options to Turkish businesses and banks to facilitate the purchase of innovative goods and services. In a time of constrained private sector lending, Ex-Im's infrastructure financing can help create sustainable growth and a higher standard of living in Turkey. Power projects supported by Ex-Im over the last 14 years account for an estimated 20 percent of Turkey's gas-fired power generation.
The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is providing a $100 million facility through Garanti Bank for lending to Turkish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We recognize that financing for entrepreneurs is essential to support a vibrant business sector in Turkey, where opportunities are constrained by a lack of venture capital and conservative lending practices. OPIC also continues to support U.S. banks that have arranged loans to Turkish banks. U.S. financial institutions see stability in the Turkish banking sector as an opportunity for growth and have expressed interest in Istanbul’s emergence as an international financial center. OPIC has two loan originators based in Turkey ready to work with U.S. companies and their Turkish joint venture partners to package loan applications for OPIC consideration (see www.EDNACCESS.com). OPIC also has three OPIC-backed private equity funds with offices in Istanbul to oversee their business operations in Turkey and the surrounding countries.
In April, President Obama's Entrepreneurship Summit brought entrepreneurs from Muslim communities around the world to Washington to meet with American counterparts and develop ideas that will lead to real economic growth. We are pleased that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to host next year's Global Summit to advance the work begun at this year’s summit and showcase the success of Turkey’s economy and its entrepreneurs. I have also invited the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association to the Maghreb Entrepreneurship Summit.
At the same time, in our government meetings we continue to address a number of issues of interest to the private sector. We have discussed our concerns with Turkey's new regulation governing products derived from agricultural biotechnology and the lack of transparency in its development and implementation. We also continue to discuss Turkey's efforts to gain additional access to the U.S. market for its agricultural products, and we welcome its desire to increase business with the U.S. in third country markets including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia. Success in this area will depend on bringing our two private sectors together.
I have received a warm welcome from our Turkish hosts during my visits to Turkey. Both sides agree on the objective of achieving concrete, measurable results. I am encouraged by the increased tempo in our economic relations and look forward to even more active private sector involvement as we continue to grow our economic partnership.
*Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
JOSE W. FERNANDEZ
Jose W. Fernandez leads the Bureau that is responsible for overseeing work on international trade and investment policy; international finance, development, and debt policy; economic sanctions and combating terrorist financing; international energy security policy; international telecommunications and transportation policies; and support for U.S. businesses and the private sector overseas.
Fernandez came to the State Department after having served as a partner in the New York office of Latham & Watkins, and Global Chair of the firm's Latin America practice. Fernandez was named one of the "World's Leading Lawyers" by Chambers Global for his M&A and corporate expertise, an "Expert" in International Financial Law Review's "Guide to the World's Leading Project Finance Lawyers", and one of the "World's Leading Privatization Lawyers" by Euromoney Publications. He is recognized as a leading Corporate Finance attorney in the Latin American market in the Chambers Global 2008 legal guide and a leading Latin America attorney in the Chambers U.S. 2008 legal guide. He was featured by Hispanic Business Magazine in its "100 Influentials List" for 2006 and 2007.
Fernandez graduated magna cum laude with high honors from Dartmouth College, earning a bachelors degree in history, and also received an honorary degree from the college. He earned a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law, where he received the Charles Evans Hughes Prize and a Parker School Certificate of International Law with Honors.
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07