US-Turkey Diplomatic Row Intensifies But Turkish Business Leaders Urge Restrain

The Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said that those who put their trust in the size and strength of the Turkish Republic stand to benefit from his country’s robust economy. Minister Zeybekci further stated that his country’s economy has proven itself time and again and that it will not be affected by forces hell-bent on “speculative operations”.  The Economy Minister made these remarks on social media in the wake of a diplomatic spat between his country and the United States.

Both countries are embroiled in a tit-for-tat diplomatic spat that is behind the imposition of travel restrictions on each other’s nationals. The on-going diplomatic tussle has brought to bare long running troubles that were brewing behind the scenes between the two NATO allies.

Last Sunday the United States abruptly suspended the processing of all non-immigrant visas in Turkey citing recent happenings that made Washington to reconsider Turkish commitment to its mission facilities and personnel.

Not to be outdone, Turkey followed the US announcement with an announcement of its own that it effectively suspended the processing of visas in it embassy and consulates across the United States. Turkey went a step further to pull the plug from the servers running its online visa system for US citizens.

Responding to questions from journalists during a trip to Ukraine earlier in the week, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the US decision was upsetting. Other top Turkish government officials have also taken to social media to denounce the US. The latest to join the bandwagon is Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek. In his online comments, the Deputy Premier echoed the words of his Economy Minister colleague. “Our country has overcome many bad crises in the last 10 years and our economy has proven to be resistant against shocks. We will protect macroeconomic stability.”

Meanwhile the Turkish business community is not amused by the on-going diplomatic row. The Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) High Advisory Council President Mr. Mr. Tuncay Ozilhan said the recent development between his country and the US is “worrisome.” He urges a normalization of relationship.

According to available data from the Office of The United States Trade Representative, (2013) Turkey is ranked as the United States’ 34th largest goods trading partner with traded goods valued at a total $18.7 billion in two way trading. The US exported $12.1 billion to Turkey while importing $6.7 billion from Turkey representing just a little over half of its exports.

Turkey imports agricultural goods, oil, cotton yarn and fabric, machinery, iron, steel and aircraft from the United States while it sells vehicles, travertine, marble, agricultural goods and iron and steel to the United States. .

While the politicians in both Ankara and Washington continue to bicker, it is not yet clear what magnitude of losses businesses in both countries stand to suffer if the diplomatic dust doesn’t settle quickly.

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