Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross

Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) Reception & Dinner in Ankara, Turkey

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Thank you for that kind introduction. It is my pleasure to be with all of you in Turkey. We arrived in Istanbul last Friday, where we had meetings with American and Turkish companies, and government ministers, and we took time over the weekend to tour the city. This has been a great country over the millennia, and it remains so today. The culture, the energy, the dynamism — they are apparent everywhere we go.

During the past two days in Ankara, we’ve met with your Ministers of Trade, Energy and Natural Resources, Health, and Finance. I had an especially productive meeting with President Erdoğan earlier today. We had an open and constructive discussion about the importance and complexity of our commercial relationship. Today, there are 1,700 U.S. companies operating in Turkey, with many of America’s most iconic brands committed to producing their products here in Turkey. Those American companies and their affiliates generated revenues in Turkey last year of $35.4 billion. That is about 3.5 percent of Turkey’s GDP. These American companies employ 78,000 Turkish workers. Their assets in Turkey total $31 billion.

American companies are a phenomenal asset to this country. They provide almost 80,000 Turkish workers and executives with insights into the best practices of technological and business enterprise innovation; and operating in an open and transparent manner. We are here to promote our mutual commercial interests and strengthen the ties that have developed over the decades between our two great nations. Our economic, social, and cultural bonds have been secured through the tenacious efforts of private enterprises in both countries. Our commercial partnership has transcended the inevitable ups-and-downs of our geo-political alliance, and it is instrumental to our continued engagement with the Turkish government.

And just as U.S. commercial enterprises have established operations in Turkey, Turkish companies are investing in the United States. Foreign Direct Investment from Turkey to the U.S. set a record last year of almost $300 million, achieving a new high in cumulative FDI stock of $2.36 billion. Turkey is now the 15th fastest-growing source of FDI in the United States, and 20 Turkish delegates attended our SelectUSA Summit in Washington this past June. Sales by Turkish companies in the United States reached a record high of $700 million, according to our most recent data. These are all healthy, positive trends, and we want them to continue. But we know there is a lot more to do.

We want to make progress on President Trump’s and President Erdoğan’s goal of generating up to $100 billion a year in trade between our two countries. This would be a big jump from the $20.5 billion in total trade in goods between our nations last year. And while $100 billion sounds like a lot, this total would constitute only 1.8 percent of the $5.63 trillion of U.S. imports and exports of goods and services.

So, we have been working with our colleagues this past week in the Turkish government to improve our trade and investment relationship. We have been helped in our efforts by the excellent recommendations that are contained in the U.S.-Turkey Business Council’s new report on the policies required to grow jobs in both Turkey and the United States, and by the Boston Consulting Group analysis. Both are very similar to the earlier analysis the Department of Commerce presented to both Governments. It is comforting that we are thinking along the same lines.

The continued success of every economy depends on transparency; a predictable judiciary; protection of intellectual property rights; human rights; and a reasonable regulatory framework.
We have also been promoting the interests of American companies wanting to provide goods and services to improve Turkey’s industrial, energy, financial, commercial space, and agricultural sectors. I encourage all of you to develop win-win collaboration with the leading American companies in these industries.

President Trump has pledged to President Erdoğan that we will become even more important partners, and that trade and investment are central to our relationship. The United States and Turkey have a tradition of working together, and we want to make sure that it not only continues, but expands long into the future.

On the U.S. side, we hope to have a resolution to the soybean ban. We seek the elimination of tariffs on cotton. And we hope to resolve the growing receivables issue for U.S. medical device providers.

From the Turkish side, we are working with the Turkish Sectoral Working Groups to advise Turkish industry on how to better position themselves to successfully enter the U.S. market. And we are looking forward to your participation in the U.S.-Turkey LNG Forum taking place in November 2019.

Again, it is great to be here. Thank you for the warm welcome, and for being such gracious hosts. The United States looks forward to working with your great nation for many decades to come.