Turkish businessmen uneasy over US visa suspension


Leading Turkish businessmen on Monday criticized the U.S. decision to suspend non-immigrant visas to Turkey, saying it will harm economic relations.

"The two countries need each other economically," Kamil Ekim Alptekin, chairman for the Turkey-U.S. Business Council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board told Anadolu Agency.

On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey suspended its non-immigrant visa service. Turkey retaliated by suspending non-immigrant visa services at all Turkish diplomatic facilities in the U.S.

"We wish that the issues will be resolved in a way that will not affect economic relations," Alptekin said, adding that no country can compromise over matters of national security.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), trade volume between the two countries has been continuously growing in the last 10 years. It shot up to nearly $17.5 billion last year from $12.3 billion in 2007.

Turkey's export to the U.S. rose by 33 percent to $5.78 billion in the first eight months of 2017, compared to the same period last year. The country's import from the U.S. stood at $7.95 billion during the same period.

Ali Osman Akat, chairman for the Turkish American Business Association (TABA), said that both countries have collaborated on numerous issues.

He added that suspension of non-immigrant visa operation in Turkey will damage relations between the two countries.

Ahmet Nazif Zorlu, head of Zorlu Holding, one of the top corporate groups in Turkey, said it was difficult to understand visa problems between two countries who are allies.

Ali Kibar, chairman of Kibar Holding, said: "These kinds of issues will put some businesses into a much more difficult spot."

Hamdi Akin, chairman of Akfen Holding, added that economic impact of the situation would be unpleasant.

Omer Bolat, chief executive of Albayrak Holding, said the negative effect of the decision on the financial market would be temporary.

"Although Turkey's ties with the EU was strained in the last two years, the business world maintained their relations and continued to cooperate," Bolat added.

Early Monday, Turkey's top business organization Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD) warned disagreements between the two countries will harm economic, social, cultural and academic relations and disturb ordinary citizens.

"Diplomatic processes to solve the visa crisis should start right away and that disagreements and differences should be settled with calm diplomacy," TUSIAD said in a statement.

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