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Cablegate: Conference Supports Innovation in Turkey

VZCZCXRO3601
RR RUEHDA
DE RUEHAK #1499 1640808
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130808Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2558
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2857
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 2028
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS ANKARA 001499

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EEB for A/S Sullivan
USDOC for 4200/ITA/MAC/EUR/OECA
USDOC for 3150/ITA/USFCS/OIO/CEENIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KIPR KPAO TU
SUBJECT: Conference Supports Innovation in Turkey


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED.

1. (SBU) Summary. An AmCham-organized, Embassy-supported
conference on "Innovation" highlighted to Turkish business and
policy leaders how business-friendly policies can promote economic
development and job creation. The conference completes one of the
actions agreed to during the February meeting of the U.S.-Turkey
Economic Partnership Commission. The Embassy will help leverage the
recommendations of the conference by promoting them with Turkish
policy makers. The AmCham intends to make this the first of a
series of annual conferences on business policy issues. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) The June 7 conference was organized by the American
Business Forum in Turkey (ABFT) in Istanbul as an effort to inject
US-style ideas of how to build a supportive policy and legal
environment for economic growth into the Turkey's debate on the
appropriate relationship between business and government. A series
of U.S. speakers, including Deputy Secretary of Commerce David
Sampson and Ambassador Wilson discussed how policies that encourage
risk-taking, entrepreneurship, and innovation can both bolster
economic growth in Turkey and contribute to a deeper economic
relationship with the United States.

3. (SBU) U.S.-based speakers such as Johns Hopkins professor Steve
Hanke and USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Thomas Mefford joined
leading Turkish businesspeople and academics in calling for a second
wave of economic reforms that improved conditions for competition
and protection of property rights, notably intellectual property
rights. They observed that Turkey ranks in the middle of the pack
in global survey's of business and investment conditions, such as
those of the World Bank or Heritage Foundation. Turkey has made
considerable progress from where it was just five years ago, but
much more work is necessary to make Turkey competitive with
countries like Ireland or Singapore -- which were frequently
mentioned as examples of how appropriate government policy can spur
business development.

4. (SBU) The conference also highlighted thriving Turkish
companies, like Vestel (an established company that manufactures
televisions, computers and household appliances) and Airties (a very
successful Turkish-American start-up that develops and markets
broadband internet modems and routers), as examples of Turkish
companies that beat the odds and proved that it was possible for
Turkish companies to succeed in a competitive global environment.
Speakers stressed, however, that such companies are the exceptions
that prove the rule, and that their success needs to become the norm
if Turkey is to be able to raise income levels to approach European
averages.

---------
FOLLOW-UP
---------

5. (SBU) The conference, especially the remarks of D/S Sampson and
the Ambassador, received substantial positive coverage in the
Turkish press -- a welcome change from the criticism that typifies
Turkish reporting about the United States. In order to further
leverage the ideas that came out of the conference, ABFT (one of the
two US Chambers of Commerce in Turkey) plans to draft a paper
summarizing the conference proceedings and making concrete
recommendations for business and investment-friendly policies that
should be adopted in Turkey. The Embassy will assist ABFT in
disseminating the paper to Turkish officials.

6. (SBU) Holding the conference was one of the action items from
the February meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Economic Partnership
Commission (EPC). During the conference, ABFT Chairman Galip Sukaya
announced that the conference was the first of what will be a series
of annual events. Building on lessons learned from this conference,
including the need to encourage broader support from the local U.S.
business community and participation by senior Turkish government
ministers (who cancelled their commitments in the midst of an
election campaign), will ensure that such events both improve
conditions for U.S. business and contribute to a more balanced
understanding of U.S. policies in the wider Turkish community. The
Embassy's Public Affairs section support the conference with a $6000
grant that helped defray an overall budget of approximately
$80,000.

7. (SBU) More information about the conference is available at
www.abft.net/conference.

WILSON

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