New York, New York, January 19, 2015. On Monday evening, January 12, 2015, in Manhattan, the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI) hosted a high level program on the subject of the prospects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and a US-Turkey Free Trade Agreement. The program was moderated by Mark Meirowitz, Business Attorney and Political Analyst (and TACCI Board Member and Secretary).
The program began with welcoming remarks by TACCI President Ali Kocak, and opening remarks by Mustafa Yurdupak, Turkey’s Commercial Attache in New York, on the scope, context and significance of the prospects of the TTIP and a US-Turkey Free Trade Agreement.
The panel consisted of Kemal Kirisci, TUSIAD Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on the United States and Europe’s Turkey Project at the Brookings Institution; Hande Ozsan Bozatli, President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER); G. Lincoln McCurdy, President of the Turkish Coalition of America; and Ali Cinar, President of the Global Policy Institute.
Dr. Kirisci discussed the importance of the TTIP and that, in his view, TTIP will be the 21st Century playbook, and that it is essential to be part of TTIP, as it is the future of trade. He also addressed the vital issue of TTIP enlargement. In the event that Turkey isn’t included in the TTIP agreement, there should definitely be a bilateral free trade agreement between Turkey and the United States, which will contribute positively to both countries’ economies.
Dr. Bozatli, due to her expertise in European affairs, emphasized the benefits that the European Union will derive from TTIP, stating that once TTIP is fully implemented, the European Union’s GDP will be increased by 0.5%. Every year, every household of a family of four will receive an extra €545. More importantly, not only big companies will benefit from this agreement but Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME’s) will also benefit. For such an agreement to come through with all stakeholders aware and positive about its outcome, regions, which are close to their companies and citizens, must be involved in the negotiation process which is not the case at the moment. She also explained that the European Union needs Turkey in such an agreement. Everyone needs to do their homework. The EU and the US know better than to lose Turkey as an international player.
Mr. McCurdy pointed out that both President Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress have common ground in wanting the president to have “fast track authority” or trade promotion authority (TPA) for TTIP and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) negotiations. He highlighted the importance for Turkish Americans to maintain regular dialogue with Members of Congress to ensure that there is no congressional action against Turkey to exclude it from TTIP negotiations or to jeopardize a US-Turkey Free Trade Agreement. He also encouraged TACCI to take a leadership role in the Turkish American business community in building support for Turkey in Congress.
Ali Cinar concluded the panel by highlighting the necessity for the Turkish American community to take action in terms of acknowledging the importance to Turkey of TTIP and to show how a free trade agreement between Turkey and the US will bring around USD 1 billion of trade between the two countries. In order for Turkey to reach a growth of USD 2 trillion in exports by 2023, it definitely needs to be included in such an agreement. Turkey is looking forward to becoming one of the world’s top 10 economies.
The Q&A session was followed by refreshments and socializing between attendees and speakers. TACCI expects to prepare and release shortly a detailed report on the program to be available on the TACCI website. for photos of the event.