Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted a meeting Tuesday at the presidential complex in Ankara with country CEOs of global companies. The purpose of the gathering: reassuring investors that Turkey continues to prioritize economic growth following the failed coup attempt on July 15.
The meeting was led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s strategic partner, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), and the International Investors Association of Turkey (YASED). More than 25 U.S. Chamber of Commerce U.S.-Turkey Business Council members and its Istanbul Office represented by Zeynep Güven were in attendance.
Earlier in July, Myron Brilliant, Chamber executive vice president and head of International Affairs, and Khush Choksy, Chamber senior vice president for Middle East and Turkey Affairs, held high-level meetings in Turkey with the president’s office and seven key ministers overseeing economic portfolios. The support voiced for the 1,600 U.S. businesses in Turkey was overwhelmingly positive, and now this message that Turkey is open for business and interested in deepening bilateral trade and investment ties is more important than ever to convey.
This week, President Erdoğan did just that. He was joined Tuesday in his address to foreign investors by key economic officials -- Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci, and Minister of Finance Naci Ağbal -- to reaffirm Turkey’s commitment to its 4.5 percent GDP growth target in 2016, in addition to its longer-term macroeconomic goals.
The president delivered three overarching messages to reassure foreign investors.
- Turkey remains committed to foreign investment and foreign investors. The business community is a priority in Turkey and their needs will be met.
- Turkey knows how to separate business from politics and will maintain a strong public-private sector dialogue.
- Turkey will use the current State of Emergency to implement more economic reforms and reduce red tape.
TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu spoke during the meeting on behalf of the private sector, presenting a joint proclamation that had been prepared with companies earlier that morning.
The proclamation stands with Turkey’s democracy and calls for continued structural reforms to enhance the business environment and intellectual property rights (the current draft patent law), among others. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Turkey Business Council supports this declaration and sees the government’s support for foreign investors as a strong signal that Turkey remains focused on business.
Important quotes from President Erdoğan about the investment environment should be noted:
“I speak to international investors, don't be concerned about Turkey, this country is safe and secure."
"We never take any steps to hurt or to harm investors. I personally prevent this. There are no interventions in the economy because of the state emergency."
Praising international investment in Turkey, President Erdoğan said global investors "know Turkey is one of the most trustable countries in the world."
Foreign investors have poured more than $150B into Turkey since 2003, including over $16 billion last year, according to Turkey’s Ministry of Economy.
President Erdoğan said Turkey aims to have a gross national product of $2 trillion, per capita income of $25,000 and $500 billion in exports by 2023.
"All doors will be open to every investor, Turkey has big aims and potentials to reach [its] aims."
"Turkey has had a lot of problems but [it] has never forgotten its real targets. We did not stop building roads, airports, bridges."
He said Turkey would not suffer economically as a result of the coup attempt and that his government would "never stop" implementing reforms and working for the economy.
"We [will] never take [any] steps back."
President Erdoğan urged investors to inform his government if they experience any hurdles related to legislations to receive help and eliminate problems.
Companies left the meeting satisfied with the president’s message and eager to continue engaging in public-private sector dialogue to encourage structural reforms and accelerate the modernization of the Turkey-European Union Customs Union that will lead to more trade and investment.
Photo credit: The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey