Balkanalysis on Twitter Briefing with Dilek Istar Ates, Project Manager and Researcher, Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD), Brussels, November 2011

Brussels, Belgium— On November 30, 2011, contributor Maria-Antoaneta Neag conducted a briefing with Dilek İstar Ateş, Project Manager and Researcher at Brussels’ office of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) at the European Parliament.

Addressing some of the members of the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament, Mrs İstar Ateş talked about TÜSİAD’s role and aim of promoting the business environment and working on new strategies designed to turn the Turkish economy into a sustainable market economy.

She mentioned that there have been some positive recent developments for attaining such a goal. The Turkish economy is rated the 16th largest in the world. The spread of the Internet has reached 30 million users in Turkey.

Moreover, thinking about the future, between 2011 and 2017, an average economic growth rate of 6 to 7% is expected, which is even more significant considering the disruptions of the EU’s financial system and economy.

In January 1996, an agreement with the EU guaranteeing the free circulation of goods and processed agricultural products from Turkey came into force. The EU-Turkey Custom Union was based on the mutual interest principle. It involves the harmonization of Turkey’s commercial and competition policies with those of the EU. This process is not yet completed and was delayed due to the EU accession negotiations. Today, Turkey has adopted 60% of the EU’s conditions.

In the briefing, Mrs İstar Ateş also noted that Turkey’s trade with the EU reached 200 billion euros in 2008. The EU remains Turkey’s main importer (40%) and export market (56%), followed by Russia (4.4%) and the US (4%). Two-thirds of Turkey’s foreign direct investment (80%) comes from European companies, Germany being its first partner.

The EU-Turkey Customs Union was designed to be a temporary trade solution that is no longer fulfilling the economic and trade necessities of the two parties, stated Mrs İstar Ateş, who pointed out that we are at a turning point and practical steps are needed to enhance the existing Customs Union with the EU. The EU Free Trade Agreements, and their actual implementation, represent a matter of concern for Turkey.

Concluding the briefing, Mrs İstar Ateş mentioned that there are other challenges affecting the Turkish business community’s development. The long queues Turkish citizens face for requesting an EU visa discourages the business environment and possible Turkish investments in the EU, investments that could have an added value in the Eurozone crises context.

The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) was established in 1971 as a response of the business community to the shortcomings of the economic system. It is a voluntary civil society organization established by the main Turkish industrialists and services providers, in order to represent the interests of the entrepreneurs. It aims to promote democratic principles, such as the protection of human rights, freedom of thought, a secular state respecting the rule of law, as well as the concepts of participatory democracy. While upholding a vision of liberal economy, it also focuses on the application of the rules and regulations of a competitive market economy and promotes higher environmental standards.

TÜSİAD also aims to achieve progress and enhancement of Turkey’s competitiveness, social welfare, employment and productivity. It also contributes to the formation of Turkish national economic policies. With its 600 members and approximately 2500 companies, TÜSİAD’s sector activity profile accounts mainly for energy (35%), agriculture (13%), education (11%) and mining (11%). Last but not least, TÜSİAD contributes to the promotion of Turkey in the global context and supports the EU accession process. Its contribution to the Turkish economy comes from corporate taxes (85%), foreign trade volume (80%, excluding energy), industrial production (65%) and more.

In light of the EU-Turkey customs union, TÜSİAD established its first Representative Office in Brussels in order to contribute to strengthening Turkey-EU relations. is an American research and analysis firm that provides dedicated coverage of the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean regions, in areas ranging from politics and security to economics and culture. It draws on the expertise of its broad network of field analysts and reporters representing a number of various countries and professional backgrounds.

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