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US investors unaffected by coup attempt, willing to raise investments in Turkey

Holding talks in the U.S. under the scope of the U.N. General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came together with over 30 American high-level executives in New York at a business dinner the next day.

During the dinner, organized in coordination with the Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT), President Erdoğan shared new regulations and incentives regarding the Turkish investment environment with representatives of large American corporations.

Among the attendees of the event were high-level executives of prestigious fund management companies and various corporations operating in different sectors such as energy, chemistry, health, finance, information and manufacturing.

In addition to the CEOs of American giants such as 3M, Cargill, Cisco, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, IFC, MasterCard, MetLife, Nike and Pepsi, high-level executives such as the World Economic Forum chairman and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce President were also in attendance.

President Erdoğan said the July 15 coup attempt could not leave a permanent impact on the Turkish economy because of Turkey’s strong fiscal structure. Stating that $20 billion worth of trade volume between Turkey and U.S. was insufficient, Erdoğan said the advanced political military relations should be observed in the economic sector as well, and stressed that Turkey’s inclusion in the free trade agreement, which will be signed between the EU and the U.S., will also be beneficial for the American firms. Touching on the latest regulations regarding the improvement of the investment environment, Erdoğan said the new incentive system makes investing in Turkey more attractive, suggesting that Turkey is an economic power in its region and also a pioneer with its infrastructural investments.

Recalling the establishment of the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund and opportunities in terms of a big joint project financing might emerge with the wealth funds of other countries, Erdoğan stressed that interest rates were on the decline, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) continued their projects strengthening with the low rates. He reassured the investors highlighting that the Turkish economy swiftly put itself together without compromising on its fiscal discipline in the aftermath of July 15. Corporations taking stand during the meeting said the July 15 coup attempt did not alter their interest in Turkey and shake their trust, and stressed that they would continue their investments regardless.

Citibank CEO Michael O’neill said the July 15 process did not disrupt Turkey regarding its fiscal outlook and markets swiftly went back to normal following the coup attempt.

Dow Chemical’s CEO Andrew Liveris said they have been operating in Turkey for over 40 years and will continue increasing their investments as a result of Turkey’s competitive investment environment. Noting that Turkish government professionally paid attention to their expectations in terms of the competitiveness of the incentive system discussed with Erdoğan in Washington on March 30, Liveris said only an investor friendly administration could manage this in such a short notice.

Coca-Cola CEO and Chairman Muhtar Kent said he was honored by being a member of a nation that stood against the coup attempt and by the democracy under President Erdoğan’s leadership, and stressed that Turkey was the only middle-income country that puts such an importance on infrastructure and investments. He also added that Coca-Cola has been investing in Turkey since the 1960s, and will decisively continue its investments in the coming period.

First Republic Bank Senior Vice President Gaye Erkan stressed that Erdoğan was a source of inspiration for them towards a vision of a great and powerful Turkey, and said that the most important factors for Turkey regarding its 2023 goals should be the revival of monetary fund reform and installation of a financial sector aiming to back the economy instead of earning money; emergence of at least one more global brand such as Turkish Airlines (THY); and providing investments that will bring technology transfers from developed countries; along with having close relations with credit rating agencies.

GE Vice President Karan Bhatia said they have been operating in Turkey for over 70 years, and created 2,500 employment opportunities in the meantime, and highlighted that signing a free trade agreement with the U.S. will be a powerful signal for Turkey in the coming period.

Pointing out that the meeting played a key role in terms of sharing what happened after the July 15 coup attempt and the government’s effective and determined policies related to the Turkish economy with the American investors first hand, ISPAT President Arda Ermut said it gave an important message with regards to investors, suggesting that Turkey took notice of the issues raised by American investors in relation to the incentive system during an earlier meeting on March 30 in the United States with President Erdoğan in attendance.

Highlighting that American investors were aware of the fact that there were only a few countries that met their inclusive demands within only six months, Ermut said there might be negative efforts regarding the “perspective of Turkey,” but investors acted more rationally without paying regard to those efforts, and trusted in Turkey’s investment environment, political stability and its people’s commitment to democracy and their leader.

According to Ermut, the meeting which brought together the high-level executives of the financial institutions managing over $3 trillion worth portfolio and companies operating in industry and service sectors amounting to $800 billion in annual revenue, was highly important in terms of seeing the investors’ decisiveness and faith in Turkey.