Tuesday, 12 July 2011, Turkish Weekly - Draft allowing Turkish companies to trade with American Indian tribes without requiring a federal approval was recently submitted to the United States House of Representatives.
The move followed Turkey’s fresh bid to enliven trade with the country’s indigenous population as Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who was at the time the state minister responsible for foreign trade, met with tribal chiefs in July last year.
Upon efforts by Turkey’s Coalition of America, or TCA, Tom Cole, the sole American Indian member of the U.S. Congress, who also co-chairs Indian American Friendship Group and is a member of Turkey Friendship Group, has recently submitted the “Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011.”
The bill expresses its target as “to facilitate economic development by Indian tribes and encourage investment by Turkish enterprises.”
In the draft, Turkey is named as the only country that can do business with Indian tribes with no additional approval by the federal government.
Reasons for such a privilege is explained under three headlines: “The public and private sectors in the Republic of Turkey have demonstrated a unique interest in bolstering cultural, political and economic relationships with Indian tribes and tribal members. Uneconomic regulatory, statutory and policy barriers are preventing more robust relationships between the Turkish and Indian tribal communities. It is in the interest of Indian tribes, the U.S. and the U.S,-Turkey relationship to remove or ameliorate these barriers through the establishment of an Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project.”
The bill aims at removing or ameliorating the certain barriers to facilitate trade and financial investment in Indian tribal economies and encouraging commerce and economic investment by private entities incorporated in or emanating from Turkey as it would contribute to raising the material standard of living of American Indians.
Once it is approved, the U.S. Interior Secretary will authorize Indian tribes to participate in the project.
Lincoln McCurdy, head of the TCA, told the Anatolia news agency that with this act a “real partnership” between Turkey and the U.S. is emerging.
Talking about the two countries working to “encourage democracy in the Middle East,” McCurdy told the agency that “partnering to build sustainable economies in American Indian regions will make this relation even stronger.”
McCurdy also thanked Cole for his efforts.
Recalling that Turkey’s companies are strong in the construction business, he said, “This act offers Turkish companies a unique position in encouraging the growth of the private sector and creating jobs.”
John Berrey, chief of the Quapaw tribe in Oklahoma, told Anatolia news agency that the interest by the two nations to learn more about each others’ culture was increasing. “This act is offering the American tribes new global partnerships and contributes to creating ground for pursuing long-term economic benefits.”
The Turkish Coalition of America offers its own scholarships to study in Turkey to up to 100 American minority students each year.
Turkey has long been seeking preferential trade treatment from Washington. Two-way trade stands at $11.8 billion.
Following the July visit by a top Turkish mission, a delegation, representing 17 tribes from at least 10 U.S. states visited Turkey in November. During the trip organized by McCurdy, the group met with the Turkish Contractors Association in Ankara.
In July, Çağlayan met with Samuel R. Shingoitewa Jr., an executive of the Hopi tribe, which inhabits land around Phoenix.
During the meeting, also joined by McCurdy, some housing and infrastructure projects were discussed, Çağlayan had said.
The tribe wishes to build 1,500 to 2,000 houses, roads, water and sewer systems and a shopping mall, the minister said.