Monday, October 3, 2011
Istanbul - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey behaved correctly expressing diplomatic concerns to Israel, Donohue says.
Turkey has made the right move voicing its concerns on the diplomatic arena while maintaining strong economic bonds with Israel, according to Tom Donohue, the top U.S. business and trade representative in Istanbul.
“Turkey has done a good job expressing its concerns on the diplomatic arena,” Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview after a meeting held by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey, or DEİK. “Meanwhile, maintaining strong economic relations with Israel is important for both countries and the region.”
He said Israel also made it clear that they desired to keep economic relations safe from political disputes. “I came to Turkey with the view that if we could improve economic relations in the region, then other things would follow,” said Donohue. Turkey and Israel bilateral trade volume hit $3.1 billion in 2010, jumping 26 percent from $2.5 billion in 2009. Israel’s exports to Turkey accounted for around $1.35 billion of this figure, making Turkey the sixth most important trade partner for Tel Aviv.
“We are advocates of Turkey’s role in the region,” said Donohue. Noting that the U.S. Chamber aimed to extend economic relations with the Arab world, he said: “This can be done through the support of our friends in Turkey.”
Evaluating the ongoing Arab Spring, Donohue said: “I see that there are extraordinary opportunities in the region both for the U.S. and Turkey to collaborate on trade and joint investment. People in the Middle East and North Africa are seeking to learn from Turkey’s experience, taking it as a role model.”
Turkey’s trade with Iran will not affect U.S. trade with Turkey, according to Donohue, emphasizing that Iran was still among the top concerns of the U.S. regarding regional stability. Turkey’s total trade volume with Iran reached $10.6 billion by the end of last year, according to official data. Turkey’s total export volume to Iran also reached nearly $3 billion last year, rising from nearly $2 billion of 2009. Turkey’s import volumes also skyrocketed to $7.64 billion in 2010 compared to $3.4 billion in 2010.
“I am not going to propose how Turkey should deal with Iran; we obviously have some challenges with Iran right now,” Donohue said. He also said he hoped Turkey will use its positive influence economically on Syria.