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Statement of the United States by Ambassador Punke at the WTO Trade Policy Review of Turkey

Statement of the United States by Ambassador Michael W. Punke at the WTO Trade Policy Review of Turkey

Geneva, Switzerland
March 15, 2016

Thank you, Chair.  The U.S. delegation warmly welcomes Turkey’s Deputy Undersecretary Dilmere and the Turkish delegation.  We also appreciate, on an ongoing basis, the contribution of our friend Ambassador Ilicak.  Of course, the United States joins others in condemning the attack on Sunday in Ankara.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.  

Turning to Turkey’s Trade Policy Review, Turkey has remained a source of impressive economic growth in its region during the review period, despite the political, security, social and economic turmoil many of its neighbors have faced in recent years.  As the Secretariat’s report indicates, foreign trade and investment have, if anything, grown in importance to Turkey’s economy during this period.  Turkey’s services sector continues its strong role in generating GDP, while a diverse and remarkably resilient manufacturing sector remains the bedrock of Turkey’s exports.  All this said, the disturbances at Turkey’s doorstep have undeniably put pressure on the Turkish economy, and that must serve as a backdrop to our discussions with our Turkish friends on how we can cooperate in the future.  As the Secretariat’s report notes, the economy has experienced somewhat uneven growth since the last review and remains vulnerable to external shocks, inter alia, via a relatively high current account deficit and unpredictable demand for Turkish exports among its key trading partners.

We continue to welcome Turkey’s efforts to engage actively in the global trading system, including through its involvement in the TiSA and Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations.  These activities, along with Turkey’s active pursuit of free trade agreements with a variety of partner countries throughout the world, affirm the commitment of Turkish officials and business leaders to enhance their country’s economic future through active engagement with the global economy.    

Turkey's participation in these initiatives is important to the United States and it is precisely because of Turkey's economic importance that we will continue to have high expectations that Turkey can contribute to our overall effort.  Similarly, we welcome Turkey’s announcement today of good news concerning its ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The United States has been pleased to work with Turkey on trade and investment issues over many years through a variety of bilateral consultative mechanisms, including the ministerial-level, Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation.  Our discussions have focused on exploring practical ways to better familiarize our respective private sectors with each other’s markets and promoting commercial ties in other ways through an enhanced bilateral trade and investment relationship.

Turkey remains an economy of great potential and significant future interest for U.S. firms looking to expand trade and investment ties in the Eurasian/Middle East region.  However, in our view, reforms in certain areas would magnify foreign business interest in the Turkish market.  Many of the questions we pose today reflect our desire to better communicate to U.S. firms the objectives and requirements of Turkish policies they will encounter in Turkey.  For example, we seek additional information on various aspects of Turkey’s customs and tax regimes, as well as measures affecting Turkish exports.  We ask for further transparency with regard to Turkey’s adoption of investment incentives and technical measures, and seek additional information on policies related to the agricultural sector.  These include certain SPS measures which affect U.S. exports of a range of products, such as bovine genetics and crops produced with agricultural biotechnology, as well as the structure and operation of Turkish agricultural support mechanisms.  Like others today, we note our deep disappointment at Turkey’s failure to meet its regular WTO notification requirements, which also complicates our collective ability to engage in negotiations in the area of agriculture.

In addition, since the United States has always advocated for strong intellectual property protections as critical to creating a business-friendly economy, we seek greater clarity with respect to a number of Turkish policies in this area.  We believe that Turkey’s economy would benefit greatly through the improved protection of IPR and we would welcome the opportunity to review aspects of Turkey’s copyright law, among others, as well as learn more about Turkey’s current and future enforcement efforts to combat piracy.

Finally, we would draw your attention to our question regarding the Government's ongoing antidumping investigation of US exports of cotton, where Turkey appears neither to have provided sufficient disclosure nor evidence to justify the imposition of a measure. We would urge the Government to look closely at our questions and concerns, which have been raised throughout the investigation without a clear response.

In closing, it is our assessment that Turkey will remain a key economic actor in its region and globally.  The United States remains ready to work with Turkey to strengthen cooperation in the WTO, plurilateral, and bilateral arenas. 

Thank you.