Turkish State Minister for economy and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke co-chaired a Washington, D.C. meeting on Tuesday aimed at establishing a road map for improvement of trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Turkish State Minister for foreign trade Zafer Caglayan and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk also participated in the meeting on "United States-Turkey Economic, Trade and Strategic Cooperation Framework."

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Locke said they focused on boosting economic ties which he said would serve in the interest of both sides and provide trade opportunities, adding that the U.S. was willing to improve trade in key some areas between the two countries.

Locke said the meeting also discussed the establishment of a Turkish-U.S. business council which would make advisory guidelines for the both governments to strengthen economic relations.

The U.S. commerce secretary said the two countries agreed to further develop relations and investments also in areas such as energy, transportation and science.

Locke said Turkey was an important ally and and a partner for the U.S., adding that the country was also a primary market for U.S. goods and services. 
Also speaking at the press conference, Babacan said both Turkey and the U.S. governments extended strong political support to the initiative, which he said would help yield rapid and solid results.

Babacan said Turkey and the U.S. were allies, partners and friends, sharing many common interests in foreign policy, adding that trade relations between the two countries should also reach the level of relations in other areas.

Babacan said the next meeting of the cooperation framework would take place in Turkey as the first meeting of the the U.S.-Turkey business council will be held in few months.

The business council's U.S. members include Citi Group's deputy chief Charles Johnson, Boeing director Heather Pederson, Dymo/Mimio's marketing director Paul Olean, Elle in Le Kazan International's Deputy CEO Duden Yegenoglu, Nike's international sales deputy head Roland Wolfram, Sikorsky's Stephen Estill, UPS country director Michael Harrell.

The cooperation framework in trade and economy between Turkey and the U.S. was launched after a U.S. visit of the Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan who met Obama in Washington last December.

Turkish members of the council have yet to be appointed but candidates include Sabanci Holding's retail group head Haluk Dincer, Turkish construction firm Yuksel's deputy CEO Emin Sazak.

Under the cooperation framework, a memorandum of understanding is also set to be signed between the Turkey's Investment Assistance and Development Agency and the U.S. Commerce Department's Invest in America.

The framework includes measures to boost cooperation between Turkish and U.S. agencies supporting small and medium scale enterprises.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will organize an informal workshop in Turkey on best implementation practices in pharmaceutical sector.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will extend financial support to a private environment management company in Istanbul, and fund a feasibility study in a solid waste management project also in Istanbul.

The U.S. State Department will hold a regional conference in Istanbul on January 25-27 and bring together nearly 125 businesswomen to launch a three-year program, "Invest for the Future.