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Tag: Turkey

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Who does Obama talk to in Turkey?

 (photo by REUTERS/Rasit Aydogan) When Obama wants to talk to his Turkish counterpart, will Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu now be on the other end?  Or will President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continue to fill that role, even in his new position?  Henri Barkey explores this question here.

TUSIAD Statement on Presidential Elections in Turkey

The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD) congratulated Recep Tayyip ERDOGAN on his election as President of the Republic Turkey and wished him success. TUSIAD released the following statement on Monday, August 11, 2014: “As the business world, our primary expectation is to end polarization and division in society that has reached a level that threatens democratization and development in Turkey. In line with his constitutional authority and responsibilities, we hope that our new president will assume a guiding and conciliatory role in reestablishing harmony among government agencies and initiating meticulous dialogue between political parties. “There is an urgent need to introduce reforms for democratization and development in Turkey, prior to parliamentary elections next year. For the success of this time period, the conciliatory and mediating role of the president is of critical importance. “As the voluntary representative organization of the business world, TUSIAD hopes that all political actors and institutions contribute to the improvement of political stability, welfare and tranquility in Turkey and that a culture of democracy takes root. TUSIAD will continue to contribute to this endeavor.”

TUSIAD Delegation Concludes Washington Visit

A TUSIAD delegation led by the President of the Board of Directors Muharrem Yilmaz concluded three days of talks with U.S. officials and opinion leaders in Washington. The TUSIAD delegation had an opportunity to exchange views on U.S. – Turkey economic and political relations and recent developments in Turkey and the region.

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Will Froman and De Gucht Talk Turkey?

By Baris Ornarli United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht are meeting in Washington this week to take stock of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations to date. They will assess progress made in the first three rounds of negotiations and provide political guidance on how best to move forward. The stocktaking meeting also provides an opportunity for the U.S. and EU to discuss the unique position of Turkey – an important American and European ally that should not be excluded from the transatlantic economy. TTIP is an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement that aims to boost economic growth in the United States and the EU. The U.S. and EU account for nearly half of world GDP and a third of global trade. The Centre for Economic Policy Research estimates that “an ambitious and comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement could bring significant economic gains as a whole for the EU ($160 billion a year) and U.S. ($130 billion a year).” But there is room for more. Since it is not yet a member of the European Union, Turkey is not a party to TTIP and its exclusion will have economic consequences. A study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology estimates that Turkey’s exclusion could result in a welfare loss of 2.5 percent. Moreover, Turkey’s customs union precludes it from negotiating bilateral free trade agreements with those countries that do not already have an agreement with the EU. Unless an arrangement is made, as a customs union member, Ankara must take on all the obligations associated with the U.S. – EU free trade agreement without requiring Washington to extend any trade privileges to Turkey. This would certainly deepen the trade imbalance between the U.S. and Turkey and counteract the shared goal of improving economic ties. The Turkish government and the business community have been vocal about Turkey’s position. As a result, in May 2013 the United States and Turkey decided to establish a bilateral High Level Committee led by the Ministry of Economy of Turkey and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, with the ultimate objective of “continuing to deepen Turkish American economic relations and liberalize trade.” Although this was an important decision, it was only first step. Turkey’s dynamic economy and integration with many European institutions make it a natural partner for the U.S. and EU. Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world and Europe’s sixth largest trading partner. Turkey remains in accession negotiations with the European Union for full membership and has a customs union with the EU since 1996. Over 55 percent of the European economic legislation is already transposed to the Turkish legal order. Therefore Turkey is already a part of the European economy. Associating Turkey with TTIP would strengthen the transatlantic economy and further solidify Ankara’s relationship with the West. In a Brookings Institution report, TUSIAD Senior Fellow and Director of the Turkey Project, Kemal Kirisci argued that, “Involving Turkey in TTIP would give concrete life to the idea of a model partnership [between the United States and Turkey] and also become a means to reconnect Turkey to the transatlantic alliance. Turkey’s involvement in TTIP would not only benefit the economy but also help consolidate and strengthen Turkey’s democracy through a continued expansion of the principles of accountability, transparency and rule of law. The size of the Turkish economy and its close economic links to its neighborhood would also bring an added value to TTIP.” Although the issue doesn’t appear to be a priority, officials say they are mindful of Turkey’s position, but there isn’t consensus on how to proceed. As Kirisci suggests in his report, TTIP could include a “docking arrangement” – much like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement – so that other countries might be able to join once the agreement is finalized. Other suggestions include introducing a clause highlighting EU accession countries or customs union members as future partners of TTIP. Another option would be to begin laying the groundwork for a bilateral U.S. – Turkey free trade agreement. Although there may be technical and practical challenges to associating Turkey with TTIP, this is ultimately a political decision. Business interests on all sides support Turkey’s strong association with the transatlantic economy. The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD) has been the leading proponent of including Turkey in TTIP. In a May 2013 position paper, Europe’s most influential business lobby, the Confederation of European Business, BUSINESSEUROPE, also argued for Turkey’s inclusion: “Turkey is a fast growing entrepreneurial European economy and its association to the TTIP would be an added-value for the business communities of both sides.” For its part, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this year will be publishing a comprehensive study on the benefits of a U.S. – Turkey free trade agreement. TTIP has been likened to an “economic NATO,” and Turkey’s exclusion is counterintuitive. The economic and strategic arguments for ensuring Turkey’s association with TTIP are strong. What’s needed is greater political will. At the very least, the issue could be explored at the stocktaking meeting, now that negotiations are well underway. This article originally appeared in the America’s Trade Policy of the Wilson Center. Click here to see original article.  Baris Ornarli is the Washington Representative of the Turkish Industry and Business Association(TUSIAD). Follow him on twitter @BarisOrnarli

TUSIAD President expresses concern with recent developments in Turkey

The President of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD) Muharrem Yilmaz reiterated calls for constitutional reform that would establish universal principles of rule of law, judicial independence and impartiality. Delivering opening remarks at the 44th TUSIAD General Assembly in Istanbul, Yilmaz expressed concern with recent developments in Turkey and problems associated with the rule of law, separation of powers and transparent politics. He warned that the country cannot increase its economic competitiveness if it does not respect the supremacy of law, has a judicial system not in line with EU norms, where the independence of regulatory institutions has been tarnished and companies are pressured with tax fines. In his remarks, Yilmaz outlined ten national priorities highlighting the expectations of the Turkish business world: Returning to the path of high growth by controlling the likely negative economic consequences of current political fluctuations and the 2014 election cycle. Resolving the controversy over judicial independence under the framework of the Copenhagen political criteria. Taking transparent, determined and concrete steps in the “Resolution Process” that seeks to permanently end terrorism and violence in Turkey. Opening negotiations on at least 3 – 4 chapters in the acquis with the European Union, beginning with chapters 23 and 24 – those related to the “judiciary and justice system.” Revising the electoral system by adhering to contemporary standards before the 2015 general elections and decreasing the 10 percent electoral threshold. Meeting the Central Bank’s inflation target of 5 percent. Focusing on increasing competitiveness based on technology and innovation and preparing supportive legislation. Adopting long-term education policies based on contemporary norms that expand the skills required for the 21st century. Expanding rights and liberties such as the freedom of speech and assembly – beginning with internet regulations. Adopting a foreign policy that is reputable, sustainable and mindful of welfare. Yilmaz said that these principles mostly seek to improve Turkey’s democratic standards and that the Turkish business world is calling for a better pluralistic and inclusive democracy.