Turkish Airlines is to launch its 20th US route in Houston, Texas by the end of this year, according to Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, speaking at a dinner sponsored by the Texas Turkish-American Chamber of Trade (TTACC) in Houston. This will be the airline's fifth direct US flight, as it already flies direct to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington D.C.
The dinner, the announcement and the new flight are all part of a drive to increase US trade with Turkey, which is currently a far bigger mission on the American side than ever before, with their economy still struggling while Turkey flourishes.
In Houston to inaugurate the city's first Turkish trade attaché, Caglayan also revealed interest in investing in Turkey from major companies including Chrysler and Blackberry. The latter he said is looking to be a part of the FAITH project to increase opportunities in technology by distributing tablets and smart boards to 15 million students in the country. Blackberry is one of several technology giants interested in taking part in the project Caglayan said. Meanwhile Chrysler is looking to take advantage of new incentives in the automotive sector.
Bilateral trade between America and Turkey totalled $21 billion last year. This is an increase of 100% since the US was hit by the financial crisis according to a recent report by TUSKON, but both governments are keen to increase it even further, and have met several times regarding trade in the last 18 months. The number of American companies operating in Turkey has increased from 700 in 2007 to 1200, with an investment of $6 billion.
The Turkish economy was the fastest growing in Europe in 2011, with GDP growth of 8.5% and this was fuelled by exceptional growth in exports and foreign direct investment. However, with the current account and trade deficits still a huge and growing (recently) problem, the Turkish government can not afford to rest on its laurels. Thank fully it shows no signs of doing that any time soon.