By Ceyda Erten, Spring 2012 Intern
On April 5th, 2012, the Willard Hotel’s Grand Ballroom hosted an event on Turkish-American trade cooperation, with Secretary of Commerce John Bryson as the keynote speaker. The lecture was titled “Building on the progress in Turkish-American Economic Cooperation,” and the event was hosted by Center for American Progress and TUSKON.
Secretary Bryson began his lecture with a strong statement: “Turkey’s moment is absolutely now.” Sharing facts about Turkey’s economy, such that it is the 17th largest economy in the world and is a member of G20, WTO and OECD, he underlined that there are now over one million Turkish-Americans, fostering the close relationship between the two countries.
As co-chair of the US-Turkey Framework for Strategic, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Sec. Bryson follows US-Turkey economic relations very closely. He mentioned that he had previously set a goal of doubling US exports to Turkey between 2010 and 2014. As of 2012, his target has already been met. In 2011, US-Turkish trade reached $20 billion, and Sec. Bryson emphasized the role of individual businessmen in improving commerce between two countries. “Businessmen talking to each other across countries matters,” he said, suggesting further bileteral talks.
In addition, Sec. Bryson called for more bilateral investments. He gave an example from Indiana, where a group of businessmen engaged in trade with Turkish businessmen on environmentally friendly roof tiles. He mentioned the Select USA program, an incentive by President Obama to increase investments in the US. He invited Turkey to form connections with all offices of American government—from federal to local.
He outlined some important challenges, such as the regulatory environment in Turkey and lack of transparency, specifically market access concerns in pharmaceuticals and agriculture. He further mentioned the lack of a strong intellectual property system of trademarks, software, and internet piracy protection, calling for Turkish authorities to make necessary changes to improve the existing intellectual property frameworks.
Sec. Bryson concluded his remarks by hoping for a “stable, predictable, and investor-friendly Turkey” and stated that he will continue being a strong advocate for deepening ties between the US and Turkey.