The Foreign Agriculture Service last month sponsored a workshop in Ankara, Turkey, regarding agricultural policy and the World Trade Organization. Attendees from Turkish government ministries, academia, and the private sector heard presentations from both U.S. and Turkish experts on key trade issues including the importance of science based trade regulations, the benefits of open trade, and the role of the WTO.
Re-opening Turkey as an export market for U.S. corn and co-products is an important goal for both the FAS and the U.S. Grains Council. Historically a strong U.S. market, Turkey in 2009 enacted a biosafety law that closed the door on U.S. exports of corn and corn co-products.
Building sentiment in Turkey for reconsidering this measure is an ongoing project, and increasing Turkish understanding of and confidence in the WTO, the international trading system, and the international food safety regime is a key strategy.
"We have allies in Turkey in several industry sectors," noted Floyd Gaibler, the USGC's Director of Trade Policy. "Restrictions on trade drive up costs for Turkey's livestock, poultry, and dairy producers, and ultimately for consumers. It's our job to better inform producers, government officials, and opinion leaders in Turkey about the safety of scientifically enhanced crops and the benefits of trade."
As the USGC's representative, Gaibler discussed the key role of U.S. industry in helping to set constructive trade and agricultural policy.
"There was a receptive audience and lively questioning," said Gaibler. "It is our hope that this effort will result in more stakeholder participation in the development of agricultural and trade policy issues in Turkey. This would provide more transparency and equitable benefits for all interested parties. That will be great news for U.S. producers, Turkish feed manufacturers, the livestock and poultry industries – and ultimately for Turkish consumers."