Consul General Scott Kilner's Remarks at ABFT Luncheon in Honor of Minister Bağış
July 19, 2012
Thank you, Rahşan, for your kind introduction.
I would also like to thank ABFT, and their executive director, Elif Demircan for organizing this luncheon. Your ability to pull together such a strong group of business and government leaders truly helps advance American - Turkish business relations.
Minister Bağış, on behalf of the U.S Mission and the American business community here in Turkey, I would like to thank you for taking the time to have lunch and speak with us today. For so many of us in the diplomatic community you are, of course, the key member of this government. In the case of the United States, not only because of our interest in Turkey’s application for full membership in the European Union, but also because of your deep personal connection and understanding of the United States, you have been very accessible and supportive both to our Ambassador in Ankara and me as Consul General in Istanbul. All of us in this room are determined to bring trade and investment to the forefront of U.S. – Turkey relations, and we appreciate your support of our work in this area.
There is no doubt that our American – Turkish business ties are strong. Currently, over 1,200 American companies are registered in Turkey, and last year trade between our countries reached a new record of $20 billion – a 34% increase over 2010.
Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk just joined Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of Economy Çağlayan in our Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation meetings a few weeks ago in Ankara – a level of our cooperation specifically discussed by President Obama and Prime Minister Erdoğan at the G20 summit last month in Los Cabos.
This was the first visit of a U.S. Secretary of Commerce to Turkey in fourteen years. Turkish exports to the United States are on a record pace this year, and U.S. sales in this market are also strong. We need to do more to increase bilateral investment – in both directions. I think we would all agree that it is time to intensify our efforts to build even stronger business connections.
To do this, American businesses must have a coherent and unified voice here in Turkey. You and other business leaders like you are the ones with real world insight into how we can continue to grow our bilateral trade, which will ultimately benefit the people of both of our nations.
Events like this one help bring all of us together, strengthen our partnerships, and unify our voice. For this reason, I am pleased to join Minister Bağiş, ABFT and all of you at this luncheon, which is yet another opportunity to unite the American business community here, and strengthen our partnerships so we can take our business relations to the next level.