Turkey looks to boost U.S. relations during China tensions

Turkey is seeking to boost its relations with the United States as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to rise, Daily Sabah reported on Wednesday.

Turkey may be well placed to take up some of the slack from contraction in trade between the United States and China, which could drop by as much as $200 billion by 2023. 

There could also be opportunities for Turkey in new approaches to supply chains created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Daily Sabah quoted chairman of the Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAİK) Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ as saying.

“We believe that these changes will also create very positive opportunities for Turkey-U.S. relations. But we need to take action as soon as possible to take advantage of these opportunities,” Yalçındağ said.

Yalçındağ said TAİK had begun a study with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm, to determine new opportunities that could further strengthen economic relations between Turkey and the United States. 

“In this study, we evaluate the opportunities that will arise from the loss of China's trade with the United States and determine the steps Turkey needs to take to replace China,” Yalçındağ explained.

He said detailed findings and recommendations of the study would be shared at the beginning of September.

Meanwhile, a new survey revealed that Turks consider the United States as both the greatest threat to Turkey and the second-best choice as a foreign policy partner, analyst Burak Bekdil wrote in an article on the Besa Center’s website on Thursday.

A survey by Istanbul’s Kadir Has University found that 70 percent of Turks think the United States is the biggest threat to their country, down from 81.3 percent in 2019. 

But when asked with which country or countries Turkey should cooperate with in terms of foreign policy, 27 percent said the United States, the second-highest choice after the 30.2 percent of people that opted for “Turkic countries in Central Asia”.

“In other words, the second-largest group of respondents said they think Ankara should cooperate in foreign policy with the country that is the biggest threat to Turkey,” Bekdil said.

“This perception of the U.S. reflects a Turkish blend of hatred and pragmatism: America is Satan, but we should not upset this powerful enemy,” Bekdil said. “It’s a loveless, if not hateful, marriage. Similarly, most Turks view the EU as a hostile Christian club but support Turkey’s membership for the sake of economic benefit.”