TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, assessing his contacts in the USA, “During my contacts I observed a determination to develop economic ties with Turkey and a desire to take action. This is a significant development. President Obama’s model partnership approach has penetrated to the very capillaries. We must use this opportunity.”​


Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Model partnerships have spread down to the capillaries. Let’s use this opportunity.

05.06.2011 / Washington

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, assessing his contacts in the USA, “During my contacts I observed a determination to develop economic ties with Turkey and a desire to take action. This is a significant development. President Obama’s model partnership approach has penetrated to the very capillaries. We must use this opportunity.”​

During his trip to the USA, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu visited the American-Turkish Chamber of Commerce (ATCOM), centered in New Jersey, on June 4th, 2011.

Hisarcıklıoğlu received an Honorary Membership Certificate during his visit from ATCOM President Prof. Dr. İhsan Işık.

Afterwards, Hisarcıklıoğlu addressed himself to ATCOM members; “You play an important role in Turkey’s foreign expansion, promotion and prosperity. You, in fact, have great responsibilities. That you must integrate with the American nation without forgetting Turkey; that you must excel in the USA academics, arts, sports, politics and all fields makes your presence here more meaningful. You are building bridges between Turkey and the USA.”

Saying that they, the businessmen, could be more powerful in the USA, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu, “All you need to do is stand as one, to stand united. Know that there is benediction and blessing in unity, torment in dissent.”

Stating that the USA Armenian lobby is strong because it is organized, Hisarcıklıoğlu, “Those who are organized will always lead those who aren’t. This is the rule.”

Pointing out that US administrations are aware of Turkey’s strategic importance, Hisarcıklıoğlu went on, “Turkey’s arguments are solid. We have the power. US administrations are aware of Turkey’s strategic importance but we are always on the defensive as a country and a nation in the USA. We spend our resources on defense instead of making an advance.”

- Turkey-USA relations

Providing information on TOBB’s stand on Turkey-USA relations, Hisarcıklıoğlu reminded that USA has substantial economic, political and military power and that Turkey has had a close relationship with the USA for 60 years.

Stating that relations with the USA are progressing strongly as ever, Hisarcıklıoğlu went on; “However, an aspect of our relations has been neglected. Turkish-American economic relations have not been developed. Our export to the US was 11.2% of our total at the start of the 2000’s. This means we had 27.7% in exports at the start of the 2000’s. Our exports to the USA were 3.13 billion dollars. As time passed Turkey’s exports volume grew. Exports numbers increased. But our export to the USA decreased. In 2010 our exports reached 114 billion dollars while our exports to the USA stayed at 3.76 billion dollars. It decreased as a ratio. Our share of USA’s total import regressed to 3%. The USA is not among the top 5 countries we export to, only the 7th. However in the same period, USA’s export to Turkey increased dramatically. For this reason our bilateral trade deficit has started to grow. Our share in USA’s imports is 0.2%.

On the other hand there are also no investments from USA to Turkey. The last examples you’ll remember are GE Finance and CitiBank.

We know the production capacity Turkey has reached. Turkey’s exports reached 115 billion dollars last year. 92% of our exports are industrial goods and about half of this marketed to EU member states. With no quality problems we should be able to overcome the difficulties of entering the US market. This is where you come in. You are here. You must ensure more companies from Turkey enter the market. You must assist more companies.

More US companies must invest in Turkey. You can pioneer this. We want to be in the top 10 economies of the world. Without gaining more shares in the US market we can’t achieve this. We need to be able to permanently enter the US market.”

- Comparing the 1980s and today

Stating that Turkey is not what it used to be, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Turkey started to change with the late Özal. Özal gave us new horizons. Gave us vision.” TOBB President went on, comparing Turkey in the 1980’s to the Turkey of today;

“The GNP was 70 billion dollars. Now it is 740 billion dollars. It is nearly a trillion. Per capita income has risen from 1,500 dollars to 10,000. Export was 3 billion dollars with 90% agricultural goods and raw material whereas not it is 115 billion dollars with 92% being industrial goods. Tourism used to bring in 300,000 dollars, now it is close to 30 billion dollars. We used to be the 25th largest economy in the world, today we are the 16th.

Hisarcıklıoğlu emphasized that Turkey is the most important producer in many sectors worldwide.

- Meetings during the USA visit

TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu summarized his USA visit;

“I arrived in Washington D.C. at the start of the week. My goal was to talk about the subjects that would develop the economic and commercial relations between the US and Turkey. I have stated before that we need to strengthen the economic bonds between Turkey and the US. In this regard, USA President Obama’s visit to Turkey and our Prime Minister’s US visit gave voice to very strong indications of developing the economic dimensions of the relationship. Various mechanisms were implemented. Also the USA President Obama’s Cairo speech stated that he wished to make a new beginning with the Islam world. In this speech he made ‘entrepreneurship’ the main actor of the new beginning.

In this regard, the USA Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has established an initiative. The Partners for a New Beginning initiative. I believe that this initiative will bring Turkish and American peoples closer. So I have established the Turkey end of this initiative. We call it PNB Turkey.

The summit was attended by Pakistan, Palestine, Indonesia, Morocco and Tunisia in addition to Turkey. I started my USA Program with this meeting. I informed Mrs. Clinton of the projects developed by TOBB and PNB Turkey. With pride, I can say that these projects were met with admiration. It showed why Turkey is the most important country of the Islam World.
Afterwards I gave a speech on Turkey-USA Relations at CSIS. I met with US National Security Council Desk for Turkey Chief Jeff Collins in the White House.

I visited US Congressmen, Brad Miller, Sensenbrenner and Dan Burton. I asked for their support in establishing a mechanism to facilitate joint R&D between Turkey and US companies. I met with the US Congress Turkey Workgroup for lunch.

I visited US Undersecretary of Defense James Townsend. I attended State Ministry Undersecretary Joe Fernandes’ lunch invitation. We spoke of Turkey-US economic and commercial relations. We conferred on tangible plans of action.

I met with IMF Vice-President John Lipsky and World Bank Vice-President Phillippe Le Houreou. I gave a speech in a meeting by the US Chamber, informing the businessmen there about Turkey’s economy and the investment opportunities there.

On Thursday evening I attended a reception organized by ATAA and FTAA in Washington. This reception made me happy in that it brought two umbrella organizations together, making it the first joint activity for the two organizations. Last night I met with TACCI, which I know you work closely with, for dinner with our entrepreneurs in New York.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu invited the businessmen in the USA to become members of the World Turkish Business Council in closing.

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