Aug 13 2018

U.S.-Turkish business association calls for return to dialogue

The American-Turkish Council (ATC), an association for promoting business ties between the two countries, has urged the United States and Turkey to return to negotiations after the breakout of what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described as “economic war” last week.

U.S. sanctions on Turkish ministers in retaliation to Turkey’s imprisonment of U.S. citizens led to a slide in the lira in early August, which gained pace as the two countries failed to heal the rift diplomatically, sparking a series of combative speeches by Erdoğan.

Matters came to a head last Friday, when the Turkish president described the situation as an “economic war,” shortly after which U.S. President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium. The lira fell by almost 20 percent to around 6.5 to the dollar by the end of the day.

"The American-Turkish Council is deeply troubled by the U.S. administration's increased steel and aluminum tariffs levied against Turkey. The tariffs do not make business sense and will hurt the American companies and workers who rely on Turkish metals to meet their customers' needs," the council said in a statement quoted by Turkish pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah.

The statement also asked Trump to pull back from a trade war with Turkey.

The council, which is known for its close links to the Turkish government, made headlines during its annual conference in 2017 due to its links to Mike Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Adviser, who was forced to resign when his dealings with the Russian ambassador to the United States were uncovered.

Flynn was also revealed to have accepted a $530,000 payment by a Turkish businessman linked to the ATC to promote Turkish interests in the United States.

The 2017 conference was also the setting for a controversial speech by Turkish ambassador to the United States Serdar Kılıç, who blasted U.S. support for armed Kurdish groups in Syria considered a threat by Turkey.

Despite this, the council’s statement this week said the council had made “great efforts” over the years to bridge the divide between Turkey and the United States, and assured readers that it was doing its utmost to resolve the tension.

The 2018 conference was postponed due to a lack of attendance, with U.S. defence companies in particular a glaring absence.