By Tuba Sahin
ANKARA (AA) - With the focus on achieving a $100 billion bilateral trade volume, the 38th American-Turkish Conference kicked off on Monday.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, David MacLennan, chairman of the US Chamber of Commerce’s US-Turkey Business Council, said the council backs reforms that will help the two countries achieve the trade volume target.
In June 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump raised the bilateral trade goal from $75 billion to $100 billion.
Business leaders in both the US and Turkey are urging the two governments to push for greater economic cooperation, he noted, adding:
"We’re advocating for lowering and eliminating tariffs, with the goal of a future free trade agreement."
MacLennan underlined that the council emphasized strategic growth sectors like the digital economy, health care, defense, aerospace, and energy.
Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, chair of the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK), stressed that the annual gathering aims to explore opportunities to strengthen the longstanding business partnership between the US and Turkey.
"All of us share a commitment to the bilateral relationship and a vision to create possibilities for businesses to thrive on both sides of the Atlantic," he said.
Pointing to the council's mission to promote stronger bilateral trade, Yalcindag said: "The best way to accomplish that is by strengthening our economic relationship."
"That is why our motto is 'business diplomacy'."
Yalcindag underlined that the significant rise in the bilateral trade volume despite the coronavirus pandemic created excitement over holding the event this year.
Khush Choksy, US Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia Affairs, said despite challenges in the bilateral political atmosphere over the last 5-10 years, business engagement has endured.
"The US chamber is more committed than ever to furthering bilateral economic and commercial ties focused on making steady progress towards the long-term ambitious goal of $100 billion in economic, trade, and services between the two countries," he said.
The four-day event will help businesses understand the opportunities in various strategic growth sectors like the digital economy, health care, defense, aerospace, and energy while discussing the challenges, he noted.
Choksy underlined that Turkish investment in the US is growing, from chocolates to white goods.
"We are committed to help our Turkish company members further their work in the US and look forward to having a business mission from Turkey in the United States next year," he added.
The event is co-organized by the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEIK) Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK) and the US Chamber of Commerce.