Every single report on US-Turkish relations in the last three years has put an emphasis on increasing bilateral economic relations between the two countries. Despite different expectations from enhanced economic cooperation, both the US and Turkish policymakers agree that this cooperation is necessary for a healthy strategic alliance. Economic partnership was one of the key ingredients of the model partnership vision of President Obama, although none of the US policymakers mention the phrase model partnership these days. Also, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his Washington, D.C., trip in December 2009, placed economic relations in his agenda as one of the key topics of discussion, after which a new strategic framework was introduced together with the formation of a new Turkish-American Business Council. Trade numbers, however, do not tell the same story. Turkish exports to the US fluctuated between $3 to $5.5 billion in the last decade, whereas US exports to Turkey are on the rise from $3 billion in 2002 to $10 billion in 2008 and $7 billion in 2009. In the first nine months of 2010, US exports had already surpassed last years figures, while Turkish exports to the US remain around $3 billion dollars. On the investment front, US investment in Turkey is stagnant at around $10 billion and mostly financial investment (which will face a decline after the sale of General Electric shares in Garanti Bank), and Turkey is not a capital exporter, hence Turkish investment in the US is negligible. Please remember that in this decade Turkish exports increased fourfold from $28 billion to $132 billion and the total foreign direct investment (FDI) to Turkey was around $90 billion in the same period. These numbers tell us an important story. The US and Turkey are not natural trading partners; however, the lack of economic foundation makes us vulnerable to political fluctuations and tensions. The US needs domestic allies in the Turkish domestic sphere to tackle anti-Americanism and to show that the US is not an Islamophobic country, while Turkey needs allies other than defense lobbies in the American domestic political sphere to better tackle the Armenian diasporas interests and misunderstandings in Turkish policy. This strategy should open new channels of communication between Anatolian cities and American states, between businesses in Anatolia and local businesses in the US. So the question is going to be how. What should the strategy be to improve business-to-business relations, knowing that American and Turkish business culture is quite different in many aspects? If you analyze the US-China trade numbers, the first thing you see is that 50 percent of the total trade is intra-company trade, so producing cheap goods and services is not enough; you have to be a part of the biggest consumer market in the world. US companies dont like to take the import risk and they do not want to do business with an international company whom they cannot deal with easily. So, one solution is obvious. Either Turkish producers need to have a strong presence in this highly competitive market, or the Turkish business community or Turkish government needs to convince American producers to bring long-term foreign direct investment to Turkey. I can name several successful examples of this strategy, including Ford and Merck from the US and Istikbal Furniture and Sarkuysan from Turkey. This strategy needs a lot of groundwork, market analysis and investment to see what works and what does not. In this respect, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Trade can do the initial investment, train US market experts who are available to Turkish companies and develop sectoral and regional strategies for Turkish companies to penetrate the US market. This is a big investment that only a couple of companies from Turkey can afford. This strategy may be more effective than the local trade attachs to US states, who stay there for three years and return. Relationship building is key; therefore, this strategy needs long-term staff on the ground. We need a public-private enterprise and network in the US, which I would like to cover in another column. Also, US companies do not know Turkey or its potential in the region, especially those emerging companies who are just beginning to join the club of US multinationals, in addition to many innovators and producers from small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). Outreach to these companies should be another key policy objective for those who would like to increase FDI to Turkey and eventually Turkish exports. This is the area of the Turkish Investment Promotion Agency. The crucial point here is the coordination of officials doing the groundwork in the two areas I mentioned. We will continue this topic by offering other strategies and success stories. Todays Zaman, Turkey