Consul General Charles Hunter’s Interview with Olay TV’s Cüneyt Önder

Bad News for Turkish Exporters!

U.S. Consul General in Istanbul Hunter, who did not herald good news on TTIP – of which Turkey is struggling to be a part – put an end to the free trade agreement debate, saying ‘we have filled our capacity’.

The U.S. administration, who did not give the green light to a free trade agreement with Turkey, also closed doors on Ankara with regard to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations held with the EU. United States’ Consul General in Istanbul Charles F. Hunter stated that the U.S. is not currently discussing bringing Turkey into the TTIP negotiations.

Charles F. Hunter, in response to Olay TV Manager Cüneyt Önder’s questions, while recognizing that the agreement would have negative effects on Turkey, said “Our two countries have established a High Level Commission and a framework structure so that representatives of Turkey and the United States can come together on a regular basis to exchange information both about how the negotiations with the European Union are proceeding and what the best analysis is of what kind of impact there would be on Turkey.”

Our Capacity is Full

Hunter, arguing that Transatlantic and Transpacific agreements do not intend to harm any country’s economy, remarked that said agreements are “intended to spur greater trade.” On the subject of Turkey’s request for a free trade agreement with the U.S., Consul General Hunter stated “with those two major agreements that we are working on with Asian nations and European nations, I think we have reached our capacity for creating Free Trade Agreements.”

There are Potentials and Opportunities

Pointing out the growth our bilateral trade volume has been experiencing for the past 15 years, Hunter said “The U.S. is in the top 10 of Turkey’s trade partners.  But for the U.S., Turkey is only somewhere in the 30’s. And given its importance and its size among world economies – one of the top 20 economies – it deserves to have a bigger place.  I think we need to … tell more people that there is still more opportunity to be found.” Consul General Hunter, who also emphasized that the U.S. is aware of the potential and opportunities presented by Turkey, added: “One very important indicator that I think your readers are aware of is the visit last fall by our Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to Turkey.  And she didn’t come by herself, but with members of a group called the Presidents Export Council.  That group was traveling overseas for the first time in more than 10 years, and it chose only two countries to visit on that trip.  Turkey was one of those two countries.  So that is the indication I think of how much the U.S. side sees potential in Turkey.”

Light Commercial Vehicle Tender

Upon being reminded that Bursa was also mentioned in U.S. Postal Service’s tender to purchase 180,000 light commercial vehicles and that Fiat Doblo and Turkish-manufactured Ford Connect seemed to be the frontrunners, Hunter noted that the process for this 6,3 billion dollar tender is an ongoing one. Consul General Hunter expressed a commitment to transparency and remarked: “When the decision is made, it will be in compliance with the highest standards of transparency.  It is not to the best of my knowledge something that the Congress would need to approve.”

What is TTIP?

The TTIP Agreement was publicly announced on February 13th, 2013 and involves removing customs tariffs between the U.S. and the EU – whose combined trade volume amounts to one third of the global trade output –, ensuring that U.S. and EU firms receive equal treatment with regard to investment opportunities and allowing for mutual free participation to public procurement tenders. Through the EU, U.S. goods entering the Turkish market will have been provided a free entry opportunity, however customs tariffs that are currently being imposed upon Turkish goods exported to the U.S. will not be removed. This situation will not only disturb trade balance, but also decrease Turkish goods’ capacity for competition.