As Prepared for Consul General Charles F. Hunter
Delivered by Deputy Principal Officer Christy Agor
Good morning, it is a pleasure for me to open the 12th General Assembly meeting.
ABFT continues to prove its value to the American and Turkish business community and this is confirmed by a 71% increase in membership between the years 2012-2015. There were 25 new members in 2015 alone. Not only are the membership numbers growing, but the retention rate is 90% compared to last year. I mention these metrics to underscore the fact that ABFT is filling a need for American companies who have invested much in Turkey and are willing to invest more.
But the American investors need a voice in the economic arena in Turkey in order to continue to grow their companies here, hire dynamic Turkish employees, and share their business expertise in the marketplace.
Your members have invested more than $50 billion in Turkey; created 60,000 jobs and paid over TL 7 billion in taxes annually. These numbers prove your members’ commitment to the Turkish market but, I understand, that ABFT companies are ready to invest even more WHEN the Government of Turkey, implements the needed reforms to encourage and protect foreign investment.
I congratulate ABFT and your Board of Directors for being recognized by the Turkish government as a voice for foreign direct investment. I understand the recent meetings between ABFT members and Prime Minister Davutoglu, and his economic advisors, went very well. It is an encouraging development when the highest levels of government reach out to the business community to ask for input. I encourage you to keep this dialogue going.
There are two more areas that I want to mention for the important work being done in the Committees and the Women in Leadership Network. We have all witnessed the accomplishments of the Healthcare Committee and I realize more needs to be done by the government, but this Committee has established itself with the bureaucrats that have the decision making power and they are listening to you. Again, keep the dialogue alive and do not get discouraged. The other committees in IT, IPR, Social Responsibility, and others are also chiseling through the issues and making progress.
There are so many talented women in Turkey and we need their contributions. Corporate women and entrepreneurs have enriched our lives in the United States with their ideas, energy, and dynamics. Many of them are powerhouses in their own right. Your mentoring programs, university outreach, and promoting women’s employment are all critical components to finding and supporting the many women in Turkey who are needed to make the economy strong here.
Good luck in your deliberations today and please keep the points I have mentioned at the forefront of your decisions in going forward in making ABFT ever-stronger.
Thank you for allowing me to support many of your events in Istanbul and the opportunity to help you grow as a young and vibrant organization. It has been my pleasure to work with Serra hanım, who is doing a superb job in leading you and the strong board of directors who care so much for the success of Turkey in the global market.