In April 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged to strengthen our economic and commercial partnership.
The goal is not only to increase trade but also to develop a strategic economic partnership that matches the already strong political and military relations between the United States and Turkey.
The Economic Partnership Commission is a key component of realizing this shared goal and builds on the work of the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation held in October 2010.
On March 3, the sixth meeting of the Commission took place in Washington, D.C. It was chaired by U.S. Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez and Turkish Deputy Undersecretary for Bilateral Affairs and Public Diplomacy Selim Yenel with interagency participation on both sides.
"Turkey ... is now the 17th largest global economy with one of the world’s fastest growth rates, and it's a member of the G-20," said Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez after the meeting.
"Yet currently, U.S. goods represent only about 5 percent of Turkey's imports. And although this is a small percentage of Turkey’s imports, we believe that our trade relationship is strong and that it's growing.
"From 2009 to 2010, trade between our two countries increased by 37 percent. And we’re happy with this recent growth, but significant opportunities remain for further growth in the U.S.-Turkish economic relationship. We can and we need to do more."
The meetings focused on finding ways to improve business-to-business ties, and to promote innovation and cooperation within the business communities. The Delegations discussed cooperation in third countries; renewable energy; entrepreneurship; investment and cooperation opportunities on electricity generation and distribution, and also cooperation in supporting small and medium enterprises.
The U.S. also agreed to support Turkey's goal of making Istanbul an international financial center through information sharing and technical assistance.
In the past, the two countries have collaborated closely on military and political issues. The business and economic side of the relationship, however, has lagged behind.
But now, said Assistant Secretary Fernandez, "We're making good progress in establishing the strategic economic relationship that our President called for in 2009. ... I believe," he said, "that the opportunities for the future are much greater than the good successes that we’ve had so far."