Glen Roberts is an International Trade Specialist in the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, a division of the International Trade Administration.
Just last month, I accompanied Michael Camuñez, Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance as he led 16 U.S. Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency companies on a Trade Mission to Turkey. The delegation included U.S. energy firms as well as officials from Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) agencies: Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Trade and Development Agency. The delegation visited Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul, where numerous opportunities exist for these firms.
The staff of the International Trade Administration recruited a variety of companies for the mission. The group included energy giants such as General Electric, Johnson Controls, and AES as well as nine small and medium-sized enterprises on the leading edge of renewable energy technology. Of the sixteen firms, whose products range from solar panels to cooling systems, eleven had never before done business in Turkey. One firm, World Business Capital, was also there to provide financing.
The mission’s main objective was to introduce the participants to potential Turkish business partners. U.S. firms met with numerous Turkish counterparts in one-on-one meetings to discuss possible joint venture opportunities. More than 340 of these business to business matchmaking meetings took place during the five-day mission.
The trade mission could not have come at a better time. Bilateral trade between the U.S. and Turkey is set to break records in 2011, with projections of roughly $20 billion in total trade. And the energy sector, in particular, is ripe for U.S. trade and investment. Turkish energy demand is due to grow at a rate of seven to nine percent annually. To help accommodate this growing demand, the Turkish government will invest roughly $130 billion by 2023, and has placed a great deal of emphasis on renewable energy. Ankara has plans to achieve 30 percent renewable energy production by 2023, and has called for $40 billion in investment in this sector by 2020. Turkey also passed an updated renewable energy law in December 2010 to provide even further investment incentives.
The U.S. Government has worked to develop this burgeoning market. In addition to the trade mission, there is a newly launched interagency project known as the “Near Zero Zone”. This project, led by the U.S. Department of Energy, is helping industrial companies operating within the Izmir Ataturk Organized Industrial Zone (IAOSB) reduce their energy usage through a series of cost-effective efficiency upgrades. One of key stops during the trade mission was to this Near Zero Zone site in Izmir.
The trade mission, along with the Near Zero Zone, helped with the formation of business partnerships and provided opportunities to match high quality U.S. supply with growing Turkish energy demand. The potential for mutual gain in this arena is enormous. Already, trade mission participants have reported a potential $40 million in business deals. We hope this is just the beginning.