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Trade oppotunities with Turkey touted

March 23, 2001

Trade oppotunities with Turkey touted



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - When business people in the 13 Appalachian states want to expand into international markets, it's time to talk Turkey.

That was the sentiment of government and private leaders who met at the National Conservation Training Center Friday to talk trade as part of the year-old Appalachian-Turkish Trade Project.

The idea came from U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who saw trade opportunities between the region and Europe's second largest economy. The conference of about 220 people marked an opportunity for government leaders to encourage business deals and for business people to meet face to face to make them happen.

Many business people were present, including about 25 who flew from Turkey.

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise touted Turkey as a strong and strategic military and diplomatic ally which should be developed as a strong economic ally.

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"The military keeps you together in times of a threat," he said. "Economics can keep you together forever."

Wise said West Virginia could benefit from exporting such items as mining and pollution control equipment. Byrd has noted the U.S. Department of Commerce has designated Turkey as one of 10 "Big Emerging Markets."

Turkey's U.S. Ambassador, Baki Ilkin, noted the 5 percent economic growth rate in the country over the past 20 year and the $7 billion two-way trade between his country and the United States. He said earthquakes and a global economic slowdown have hindered Turkey's economy in recent years, but his government is committed to creating a free market economy.

Ilkin said the problems are being corrected, a sentiment shared by U.S. officials.

"The Appalachian-Turkish Trade Project holds great promise," he said.

For this region's business community, Ankara Turkey is a two-hour plane ride from 350 million people, a four-hour ride from 1.5 billion people, said Kursad Tuzmen, Prime Ministry undersecretary for Foreign Trade.

"These markets need a lot of commodities," he said. "Let's trade business."

John Breidenstine, commercial counsel for the federal U.S. Commercial Service in Ankara, cited a long list of potential trade possibilities. They include energy equipment, information and communications technology, business products, environmental technologies, medial equipment and automotive parts and service equipment, among others.

"The opportunities for trade are tremendous," he said.

Martinsburg attorney Clarence E. Martin said the conference was important for building relationships.

"The key is these long-term projects," he said. "We need to be patient."

The conference ended Friday night.

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