US Vows to Make Turkey ‘Priority’ Trade Partner

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (C) and Trade Rep. Ron Kirk (L) listen to remarks by Turkey's Deputy PM Ali Babcan

WASHINGTON (AFP)— Top US and Turkish trade officials met in a bid to deepen trade ties Tuesday, with Washington vowing to realize Turkey’s potential as a “priority” market.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met his Turkish counterparts, including Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, as the United States strives to double exports by 2015.
“Expansion of our commercial engagement with Turkey creates a win-win opportunity for both US and Turkish businesses,” Locke said.

Focusing on energy, investment, scientific and agricultural ties, President Barack Obama’s top trade officials said Turkey was a “priority market for US goods and services.”

According to Commerce Department figures, trade between the two countries rose to a value of nearly 11 billion dollars last year and US exports were up 35 percent in the first seven months of this year.

“Turkey has enormous needs and is also one of the fastest-growing economies… and so we talked about the opportunities in terms of business, trade, energy, development, pharmaceuticals, medicine and devices of all kinds,” Locke said at a news conference after the talks.

The meeting came amid tensions between some Western countries and Turkey over a US missile defense system and Turkey’s painfully slow efforts to join the European Union.

Presidents Obama and Abdullah Gul launched efforts to boost trade ties last December.
As part of Tuesday’s talks, the two countries agreed to set up a US-Turkey business council — bringing together top business leaders to produce policy recommendations.

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