Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeting with Tobb President Rifat

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

160700Z Sep 03





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ambassador's Meeting with TOBB President Rifat


1. (SBU) In the Ambassador's first call on Turkish Union of
Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (Turkish acronym TOBB)
President Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the two sides discussed Iraq
reconstruction, economic reform, the upcoming Economic
Partnership Commission meeting, and investment climate
issues. Hisarciklioglu provided us with a copy of TOBB's
report on Iraq reconstruction problems. The Ambassador
emphasized the interest of both the United States and Turkey
in a unified, democratic and prosperous Iraq, and said that
Turkish companies were in a good position to gain a share of
Iraq reconstruction contracts. End Summary.

Iraq Reconstruction

2. (U) Hisarciklioglu told the Ambassador that he planned to
attend a conference on Iraq reconstruction hosted by the
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on
September 18 and 19, and delivered a TOBB report on this
subject. The report, based on a survey of businesses
dealing with Iraq, found that obtaining accurate
information, transport and payments were key problems.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador responded that the United States and
Turkey share an interest in a unified, democratic, and
prosperous Iraq. He also stressed the President's
commitment to political and economic reform in the broader
Middle East. He emphasized that the U.S. Administration
does not intend to disadvantage Turkish companies seeking
Iraq reconstruction contracts. On the contrary, Turkish
companies should be very competitive in this environment.

Economic Priorities

4. (U) Hisarciklioglu began by pointing out that TOBB,
representing about 1.2 million individuals and companies,
was intimately familiar with Turkey's socioeconomic
situation. TOBB fully supports the economic/structural
reform program, rule of law, equal opportunity for all, and
efficient administration of justice.

5. (SBU) TOBB's President noted that bilateral relations
have developed since the 1980's, but that economic and
commercial relations lagged our political relations. For
example, Turkish trade with the United States is not
expanding as quickly as overall Turkish foreign trade.
Hisarciklioglu praised past cooperation with the Embassy on
economic issues, including the establishment of American
corners in Gaziantep, Kayseri and Bursa. He also expressed
gratitude for U.S. economic support in the form of the USD
8.5-billion loan package. Hisarciklioglu suggested that the
private sector be given a role in this fall's Economic
Partnership Commission meeting.

6. (SBU) The Ambassador acknowledged that Turkey's economic
picture, with lower inflation and economic growth, continues
to improve. He agreed that bilateral economic relations
should be strengthened, and that foreign investment should
be an important element in this. He pointed out that
macroeconomic stability is a necessary, but not a
sufficient, condition for attracting foreign direct
investment. In particular, the GOT also needs to resolve
problems affecting existing U.S. investors and to improve
transparency. The Ambassador agreed that some form of
private sector participation in the EPC would be useful.

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