US Ex-Im Bank extends $1 bln energy loan to Turkey
In trade talks in the US this week, State Minister for Foreign Trade Zafer Caglayan has been working to bring to fruition the trade aspect of the Turkish-US "model partnership," a notion introduced by US President Barack Obama. Among the steps he pursued this week are the establishment of a new Turkish-US Business Council, which is set to play a key role in boosting trade ties and economic cooperation between Turkey and the US, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding to foster economic and trade cooperation with one of the US' leading economic states, Illinois. While such agreements are planned to be signed with a number of other states in the country, Turkey also plans to improve direct business-to-business contacts between Turkish and US companies as well as to organize events to tout Turkey to US business circles. Another tangible step in this respect came yesterday with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the US' Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank and the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry. Under the agreement, Ex-Im Bank will loan $1 billion to Turkey for use in renewable energy investments. The two sides have also agreed to share information on trade and business opportunities to facilitate the sales of US goods and services offering environmental benefits to Turkey's energy sector, including renewable energy and energy efficiency exports. Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz signed the memorandum in Ankara. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Hochberg called Turkey's economic development in recent years remarkable. Stating that Turkey and the US have enjoyed important strategic cooperation in the area of security, Hochberg said, "President Obama tasked us with strengthening economic cooperation with Turkey. The US plans to carry its strategic partnership with Turkey to also an economic level. Turkey is one of nine priority countries being targeted for financing by Ex-Im Bank because of the major opportunities it offers US exporters." Stating that they could extend financial support to renewable energy projects to help Turkey use its own energy resources and thus reduce its dependence on foreign energy suppliers, Hochberg said the $1 billion loan they agreed to can be used in various energy investments such as wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power plants. "This agreement strengthens the longstanding partnership between Ex-Im Bank and Turkey," he said. Hochberg also said leading US firms General Electric and Westinghouse are interested in Turkey's plans to build nuclear power plants. For his part, Yildiz said the loan is planned to be used in wind, solar and geothermal energy projects, adding that the loan agreement is an optional one.