International trade and commercial transactions in Turkey: overview

A Q&A guide to the regulation of international trade and commercial transactions in Turkey.

The Q&A covers key matters relating to sale of goods contracts, including rules on formation, price and payment, delivery, passing of title and risk, variation and assignment, enforcement and remedies, exclusion of liability, choice of law and jurisdiction, and arbitration. It also provides an overview of the rules governing storage of goods, imports, trade remedies, exports and international trade restrictions.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the international trade and commercial transactions Country Q&A tool.

This Q&A is part of the International Trade and Commercial Transactions Global Guide. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit www.practicallaw.com/internationaltrade-guide.

M Fevzi Toksoy and Sinem Uğur, Actecon

Kenan Güler and Cüneyt Yetgin, Güler & Dinamik Customs Consultancy Inc.
Contents

Recent trends

1. What are the recent trends affecting the regulation of international trade in your jurisdiction? Is your jurisdiction a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)?

Recent trends

In late 2014 and early 2015, Turkey began to take a positive approach to the rights granted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements regarding trade remedies. In late 2014, a safeguard measure was initiated against the import of smart phones and other mobile phones.

In January 2015, an anti-dumping investigation against the import of hot-rolled coil products originating from China, France, Romania, Japan, Slovakia, Russia and Ukraine was initiated, with major global steel industry companies involved as interested parties.

In addition to these new investigations, Turkey is also conducting expiry review investigations. Generally, the awareness of trade remedies both by the Ministry of Economy and domestic industry is increasing, and the aim is to use these tools more efficiently and effectively.

There has also been a recent policy change affecting the overall process of investigations, requesting that all official responses and correspondence be submitted in Turkish. Following the new policy, the translation workload and costs for foreign interested parties have increased noticeably.

The final trend worth mentioning is the increase in additional customs tariffs based on Law no. 474 on Customs Entry Schedule, which are being recorded as revenue on the general budget (and separate from customs tariff on imports and other financial obligations of customs administrations).

Trade agreements

Turkey has signed and ratified several Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and trade and co-operation agreements.

  • Turkey has FTAs with: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile, European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, South Korea, Serbia, Syria and Tunisia. The FTA between Turkey and Syria was suspended in 2011.

  • Turkey has BITs with: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, The Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, US, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

  • Turkey has trade and co-operation agreements with: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, South Korea, Syria, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay and Yemen.

In addition, Turkey is also a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation.

Reform

There are currently no impending developments or proposals for reform of national legislation affecting international trade and commercial transactions.

 

Contracts for the sale of goods

General

2. What is the legal system in your jurisdiction based on (for example, civil law (codified), common law or sharia law)?

The legal system in Turkey is based on codified civil law.

Everyone must act in good faith when exercising rights and performing obligations (Article 2, Turkish Civil Code). The law will not protect a clear abuse of a right.

In addition, if there is a clear disproportion between mutual actions in a contract because one party exploits the weakness, thoughtlessness or inexperience of the other party, the damaged party can avoid the contract or ask to remedy the disproportionality (Article 28, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 

Formation

3. What domestic legislation and international rules apply to a sale of goods contract in your jurisdiction? Are standard international contractual terms commonly used?

Domestic legislation

The main relevant laws are as follows:

  • Turkish Code of Obligations (published in the Official Gazette on 4 February 2011 and numbered 27836).

  • Turkish Commercial Code (published in the Official Gazette on 14 February 2011 numbered 27846).

  • International Private and Procedure Law (published in the Official Gazette on 12 December 2007 and numbered 26728).

  • Turkish Procedure Law (published in the Official Gazette on 4 February 2011 and numbered 27836).

  • Turkish Code for Protection of Consumers (published in the Official Gazette on 28 November 2013 and numbered 28835).

  • Turkish International Arbitration Law (published in the Official Gazette on 5 July 2001 and numbered 24453).

International rules

Turkey is a party to the:

  • Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

  • UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG).

  • Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention).

  • Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (Montreal Convention).

Standard contractual terms

The following are commonly used in Turkey:

  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) international commercial terms (Incoterms) 2010.

  • UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts (PICC).

 
4. What are the authority/capacity rules for entering contracts, for different commercial entities?

Legal entities have juridical capacity and are capable of having rights (Articles 48 and 49, Turkish Civil Code). Therefore, a company can be party to a contract.

In simple partnerships (with no legal personality), every partner will be party to a contract. It is not possible for partnerships without a legal personality to be party to a contract.

A company in liquidation will protect its legal personality until the liquidation ends. In this case, the authority of the company's bodies is limited to the purpose of the liquidation.

In bankruptcy cases, a company's bodies maintain their representative authority only when the company is not represented by the bankruptcy administrator (Articles 533 and 534, Turkish Commercial Code).

 
5. What are the essential requirements to create a legally enforceable contract?

Substantive requirements

To create a legally enforceable contract, there needs to be offer and acceptance.

The offer must contain the essential components of the contract, including:

  • The good(s).

  • The price.

  • An intention to exchange the item.

  • An intention to create legal relations.

Acceptance creates the agreement. As a rule, silence is considered to be rejection. Acceptance must not contain a counter-offer.

The agreement will be established with the consensus of the parties. The consensus must contain the essential components of the contract. Even if the parties do not agree on secondary components, the contract will be enforceable (Articles 1 and 2, Turkish Code of Obligations).

Formal requirements

As a rule, a contract does not need to be written to be valid (Article 12, Turkish Civil Code). There are some exceptions to this rule, for example, a contract for the sale of immovable goods must be in an official written form (Article 705, Turkish Civil Code).

English is commonly used in international contracts. There is no language requirement affecting the validity of a contract. Therefore, a contract will be valid even if it is not written in Turkish.

However, foreign companies must use Turkish in contracts with Turkish nationals, Turkish companies or the Turkish Government. Foreign companies must also submit their documents and books to public institutions in Turkish (Article 2, Law of Compulsory Turkish use for Economic Institutions).

If a party to court proceedings bases its arguments on a document written in a foreign language, such party must submit a translation to the court (Article 223, Turkish Procedure Law).

 

Price and payment

6. If price provisions are not agreed by the parties, does local law impose requirements in relation to price (for example, the time, method and place of payment)?

If the seller does not mention a price, the price will be the average market value in the place of payment at the time of conclusion of the contract (Article 233, Turkish Code of Obligations).

If not agreed by the parties, payment will be in local currency (Article 99, Turkish Code of Obligations).

If not agreed by the parties, payment must take place at the residence of the seller (Article 89, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 

Delivery

7. If delivery provisions are not agreed by the parties, does local law impose requirements in relation to delivery (for example, the time, method and place of delivery)?

In a sales contract, it is the seller's duty to deliver the goods and the buyer's duty to accept them. Failure by either party to perform these duties is a breach of contract.

Contractual obligations are due immediately if a time for delivery is not agreed by the parties (Article 90, Turkish Code of Obligations).

When a consumer orders goods from a seller under a distance selling contract, the seller must deliver the goods within 30 days from receiving the order (Article 16, Distance Contracts Regulations).

The place of delivery is (Article 89, Turkish Code of Obligations):

  • For generic goods, the place where the goods are located.

  • For every other obligation, the residence of the buyer.

If the parties did not agree on a method of delivery, the Turkish Code of Obligations contains substitute provisions. For example, unless it is in the creditor's interest, the debtor does not need to perform the contract personally (Article 83, Turkish Code of Obligations).

A debtor can fulfil its obligation partially but if the full debt is due and certain, the creditor does not have to accept partial fulfilment (Article 84, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 

Passing of title and risk

8. If not agreed by the parties, when does title to the goods pass to the buyer?

The seller must transfer possession of the goods to the buyer in order to pass title (Article 210, Turkish Code of Obligations).

The title to immovable goods will pass when the transfer of land is registered (Article 705, Turkish Civil Code).

All ships are considered to be movable property regardless of whether they are registered (Article 936, Turkish Commercial Code).

 
9. Are retention of title clauses enforceable in your jurisdiction? If so, what are the requirements to create a legally enforceable retention of title clause?

Retention of title clauses are enforceable only on the sale of movable goods (except for animals, which are considered goods under Turkish law). To create a legally enforceable retention of title clause, the contract must be recorded in a specific registry by a notary in the buyer's residential area (Article 764, Turkish Civil Code).

 
10. If not agreed by the parties, when does risk in relation to the goods pass to the buyer?

If not agreed by the parties, risk passes to the buyer on transfer of possession (for movable goods) or when the sale is registered (for immovable goods) (Article 208, Turkish Code of Obligations).

Risk passes to the buyer when he takes over the goods or, if he does not do so in due time, from the time when the goods are placed at his disposal and he commits a breach of contract by failing to take delivery (Article 69, UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)).

Where the contract of sale involves the carriage of the goods (Article 67, CISG):

  • If the seller is not bound to hand over the goods at a particular place, the risk passes to the buyer when the goods are handed over to the first carrier for transmission to the buyer.

  • If the seller is bound to hand over the goods to a carrier at a particular place, the risk passes to the buyer when the goods are handed over to the carrier at that place.

 

Variation and assignment

11. What are the main ways and formalities to transfer contractual rights?

Transferring rights and obligations under a contract to a third party is possible under Turkish law. The transfer agreement must be in the same form as the original agreement (Article 205, Turkish Code of Obligations).

Transfer of claims is also possible under Turkish law. The debtor's consent is not necessary when transferring claims arising from a contract (Article 183, Turkish Code of Obligations). An assignment of receivables will only be valid if it is in writing (Article 184, Turkish Code of Obligations).

A third party can undertake a liability arising from a contract and can either perform the liability or make a contract with the creditor (Article 195, Turkish Code of Obligations).

Unless it is in the creditor's interest, the debtor does not need to perform the contract personally (Article 83, Turkish Code of Obligations).

Not all contracts are assignable, as some obligations can only be performed by specific persons (for example, retainer agreements). In such cases, any assignment will be void, even if made in writing.

 
12. What are the main rules relating to waiver of contractual rights?

A debtor can waive his right to barter (Article 145, Turkish Code of Obligations).

No party can waive the statute of limitations (Article 160, Turkish Code of Obligations).

A hire purchase agreement takes effect and has consequences after the creditor receives a copy of the agreement within seven days. A creditor can notify the debtor that it takes back his declaration of will but a receiver cannot waive this right in advance (Article 255, Turkish Code of Obligations).

A buyer cannot waive in advance his right against a seller's claims that arise from a hire purchase agreement (Article 257, Turkish Code of Obligations).

A buyer who is resident in Turkey cannot waive the jurisdiction of the local court to rule on potential disputes arising under a hire purchase agreement to which he is a party (Article 262, Turkish Code of Obligations).

As a rule, a guarantor cannot waive his legal rights unless stated otherwise by the law (Article 582, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 

Enforcement and remedies

13. What are the seller's obligations in relation to the description and quality of the goods?

A seller must deliver goods that are of the quantity, quality and description required by the contract (Article 35, CISG and Article 219, Turkish Code of Obligations).

A seller will also be responsible for any defects of quality or quantity which eliminate or significantly reduce the benefits that the buyer expects from it (Article 219, Turkish Code of Obligations).

In consumer contracts, a seller must deliver the goods in accordance with the contract (Article 9, Turkish Code for Protection of Consumers).

 
14. What are the different types and legal status of contractual terms in your jurisdiction?

There are two types of contractual terms in Turkish law: fundamental and secondary obligations.

Fundamental obligations are the root of the contract. In a sales contract, fundamental obligations are those to transfer ownership of the goods and to pay for such goods.

Secondary obligations are attached to fundamental obligations. They do not characterise a contract, but simply specify the fundamental obligation. Secondary obligations arise under the principle of good faith and can be subject to litigation.

Breach of a fundamental obligation allows the other party to avoid a contract. Breach of both fundamental and secondary obligations gives rise to damages.

 
15. What are the key rules on privity of contract and third party rights?

A third party cannot be burdened with a debt or have the right to a claim without consenting to it. Any claim or debt arising from a contract can only be alleged or violated by the parties to it. The parties can form a third party beneficiary contract, allowing a third party to bring a claim directly against the debtor, but the third party will not be a party to the contract and cannot avoid it (Article 129, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 
16. What are the rules relating to invalidity, misrepresentation and mistake relating to contracts?

A contract will be invalid if it is not compatible with:

  • Mandatory provisions of the law.

  • Morality.

  • Public order.

  • Personal rights.

A contract will also be invalid when the subject of the contract is impossible (Article 27, Turkish Code of Obligations).

If a party is fundamentally mistaken while establishing a contract, it will not be bound by it (meaning that the contract will be voidable) (Article 30, Turkish Code of Obligations).

If one party concludes an agreement by deceiving the other party, even if the misrepresentation is not fundamental, the other party will not be bound by the contract (and the contract will be voidable) (Article 36, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 
17. What are the main performance and discharge rules relating to contracts?

The main rules on discharge are as follows:

  • Release of debt. Parties can resolve a debt by agreement. The agreement does not need to be in writing (Article 132, Turkish Code of Obligations).

  • Renewal. An existing debt can be discharged by a new debt (Article 133, Turkish Code of Obligations).

  • Merger of debts. When the title of creditor and debtor merges on the same person, the debt is discharged (Article 135, Turkish Code of Obligations).

  • Objective impossibility. If performance is impossible and the debtor cannot be held responsible for this, the debt is discharged (Article 136, Turkish Code of Obligations).

  • Barter. If both parties are in debt to each other, they can barter to discharge the debt (Article 139, Turkish Code of Obligations).

  • Statute of limitations. When the period of time specified in the statute of limitations expires (generally ten years, with some exceptions), the debt is discharged (Articles 146 and 147, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 
18. What are the main remedies and rules for losses and damages for breach of a sale of goods contract?

The main remedies for breach of contract are as follows:

  • Performance and compensation for delay.

  • Waiving the right to claim specific performance and asking for compensation for positive damages.

  • Avoiding the contract and asking for compensation for negative damages.

Positive damages are damages incurred by the creditor because the debtor has not performed his obligation or has not performed them as required.

Negative damages are losses suffered by the creditor because he relied on the validity of the contract.

The creditor must give proper time to the debtor and a chance to perform the obligation, or the creditor can ask a judge to order such a time. There are exceptions to this rule (Articles 123 and 124, Turkish Code of Obligations).

Proof that the debtor is at fault is needed when asking for compensation (for delay, positive or negative damages). However, the debtor can prove that he is not at fault.

 
19. What are the buyer's remedies for breach of a sale of goods contract?

If a seller fails to perform his obligations, the buyer can ask for (UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods 1980 (CISG)):

  • Performance.

  • A price reduction.

  • Avoidance (if the breach is fundamental).

  • Damages.

If the goods do not conform to the contract, the buyer can:

  • Require the delivery of substitute goods if the lack of conformity constitutes a fundamental breach of the contract and the relevant notice is given (Article 46(2), CISG).

  • Require the seller to remedy the lack of conformity by repair (with notice) (Article 46(3), CISG).

  • Ask for a price reduction (Article 50, CISG).

In cases of non-delivery, the buyer can ask for performance and provide additional time for it (Article 47, CISG). If the seller does not deliver the goods within the additional time, the buyer can avoid the contract (Article 49, CISG).

When delivery is late, even if it is not a fundamental breach, the buyer can avoid the contract within a reasonable time after becoming aware that delivery was made (Article 49/2-a, CISG).

If the seller breaches the contract, the buyer can ask for (Article 227, Turkish Code of Obligations):

  • Performance.

  • Avoidance.

  • A price reduction.

  • Damages.

 
20. What are the seller's remedies for non-payment or late payment?

A seller can request performance and give the buyer additional time to perform (Articles 62 and 63, UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods 1980 (CISG)). If the buyer fails to pay within the additional time, the seller has a right to avoid the contract. The seller can also ask for damages.

Remedies for non-payment and late payment include (Articles 235 and 236, Turkish Code of Obligations):

  • Requesting and giving additional time for performance.

  • Avoiding the contract.

  • Damages.

 

Exclusion of liability

21. What are the main rules relating to excluding contractual liability? Are exclusion clauses enforceable in your jurisdiction? If so, what are the requirements to create a legally enforceable exclusion clause?

Exclusion clauses are enforceable. However a clause made before contractual liability arises is enforceable only if it refers to negligent breach (and nothing else). An exclusion clause for gross negligence and intentional breach will only be valid if agreed after contractual liability arises (Article 115, Turkish Code of Obligations).

 

Choice of law

22. Will local courts recognise a choice of foreign law in a sale of goods contract? Are there any mandatory local rules that apply, despite a choice of foreign law?

A judge will apply foreign law ex officio (Article 2, Turkish International Private and Procedure Law).

Contracts for the sale of immovable goods are subject to the law of the country where the real estate is located (Article 25, Turkish International Private and Procedure Law).

 
23. If the parties do not make a choice of law, what rules determine the law applicable to a sale of goods contract?

Where the parties have not made a choice of law, the law that applies is the one most closely connected to the contract (Article 24(4), International Private and Procedure Law).

The grounds for deciding which law is most closely connected include:

  • The habitual residence of the debtor of the characteristic performance of the contract.

  • The workplace of the debtor if the contract is connected to a commercial or professional activity. If this is not the case, the residential area.

  • If the debtor has more than one workplace, the premises that are most connected to the agreement.

 

Choice of jurisdiction

24. Will local courts recognise a choice of foreign jurisdiction in a sale of goods contract? Are there any mandatory local rules that apply, despite a choice of foreign jurisdiction?

If jurisdiction has not been determined by mandatory local rules, parties can choose a foreign jurisdiction (Article 47, Turkish International Private and Procedure Law). An agreement to elect a foreign jurisdiction is valid only if supported by documentary evidence.

Turkish courts have exclusive jurisdiction over rights in rem relating to real estate in Turkey (Article 12, Turkish Procedure Law).

 
25. If the parties do not make a choice of jurisdiction, what rules determine the jurisdiction applicable to a sale of goods contract?

If the parties do not make a choice of jurisdiction, Turkish domestic procedure law will apply to determine whether there is international jurisdiction (Article 40, Turkish International Private and Procedure Law).

Generally, the court of the defendant's residential area has jurisdiction (Article 6, Turkish Civil Procedure Law).

There are also some special rules relating to jurisdiction for lawsuits arising from contracts, torts, right in rem for immovable goods, and so on (Articles 7 to 16, Turkish Civil Procedure Law).

 

Arbitration

26. Are arbitration clauses commonly included in sales of goods contracts in your jurisdiction?

An arbitration contract is an agreement where parties agree to resolve either a part or all of a dispute arising from their contract (Article 4(3), Turkish International Arbitration Law). Arbitration contracts can be made either in the main agreement or in a separate contract.

Arbitration decisions that are final and binding on the parties must be ratified to be enforceable in Turkey (Article 60, Turkish Private and Procedure Law).

Turkey is a party to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (New York Convention), published in the Official Gazette on 25 September 1991 and numbered 21002.

 

Storage of goods

27. How is title to goods in storage protected and evidenced? Are warehouse receipts recognized as documents of title in your jurisdiction?

In customs warehouses, goods are the responsibility of the warehouse operator. Goods are given a bill of entry and then registered in the stock book.

In all cases, goods stored in a warehouse will be insured. The insurance must also cover customs tax.

It is the operator's responsibility to provide security for the goods. The operator will be liable if any good is stolen or damaged in the warehouse.

Warehouse receipts cannot be negotiated or delivered.

The warehouse operator is authorised to transfer the goods. The goods can be transferred at the request of the owner of the goods, and warehouse stock books are updated accordingly.

The goods in a customs warehouse can be transferred to a third party using a sales agreement (Article 333, Customs Regulation).

 
28. What conditions and formalities must warehouse receipts comply with?

A declaration must be issued to customs if goods are imported. These declarations are in addition to detection reports issued by customs.

Warehouse declarations that are not issued in accordance with customs office administrative procedures are not valid in any circumstances.

A warehouse proof of receipt is stored electronically and the holder of the goods is given a copy. Warehouse receipts must be registered in the customs information system and a registration date and number will be provided by customs.

Penalties under the Customs Law are only used where a receipt has not been properly arranged.

Warehouse receipts are uniform and not negotiable.

 
29. Are other interests over goods in storage recognized?

A storage fee will be required under the agreement with the warehouse manager.

No assurance is provided by the owner of the goods to customs in a type A general storehouse.

 

Imports

Customs authority

30. What is the authority responsible for enforcing customs laws and regulations? Are certain goods subject to specific examination procedures?

Customs legislation is enforced by both central and provincial organisations of the Ministry of Customs and Trade. In provincial organisations, the authority is carried out by customs offices.

According to the Ministry of Customs and Trade, any goods subject to high taxation or additional financial liability must undergo special examination procedures including full inspection, laboratory analysis, appraisal report, and so on.

The main laws covering customs authorisation, investigations and legal practices are the:

  • Anti-Trafficking Law.

  • Customs Law.

  • Turkish Criminal Law.

Administrative fines issued by customs offices apply where there has been an attempt to evade tax (Articles 234 and 238, Customs Law) or for other irregularities (Articles 239 and 241, Customs Law).

 

Import duties, tariffs and rates

31. What are the main customs import tariffs and duties?

General tariffs and rates

The main import customs taxes are determined yearly by the Ministry of Economy along with any new import regimes. The customs tax is determined using the harmonised system code of the goods and consists of countervailing duty, excise duty and value added tax (VAT).

The rates of general customs taxes are as follows:

  • VAT applies at 1%, 8% or 18% depending on the product.

  • Industrial commodities are taxed at 18% (certain agricultural products are taxed at rates of between 1% and 8%).

  • The average rate of customs duty is about 5%.

  • Agricultural products have the highest duty rate of 225%.

The following are examples of customs duties:

  • Customs tax.

  • Additional customs tax.

  • Single and fixed tax.

  • Anti-dumping tax.

  • Anti-subvention tax.

  • VAT.

  • Private consumption tax.

  • Housing development fund.

  • Tobacco fund.

  • Resource utilisation support fund.

  • Environmental contribution margin.

  • Countervailing duty.

  • Banderol fee.

Preferential tariffs

The following preferential tariffs apply:

  • Decision No 1/2006 of the EC-Turkey Association Council of 15 May 2006 on the implementation of Article 9 of Decision No 1/95 of the EC-Turkey Association Council on implementing the final phase of the Customs Union. This ensures the free movement of goods between Turkey and EU countries.

  • The system of pan-Euro-Med cumulation of origin operates between the EU and the states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Turkey, among others.

  • Cumulation of origin with the western Balkans including Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • Bilateral free trade agreement with Malaysia.

  • Bilateral free trade agreement with South Korea.

 

Non-tariff barriers to imports

32. Are there non-tariff barriers to imports into your jurisdiction?

Generally, a certificate of origin is not required for importing goods into Turkey. However, where a product or packaging includes a sign of a country that is different from the actual country of origin, the customs authority will not allow such product to enter Turkey freely. When imported goods (especially textile and apparel products) are subject to safeguard measures or additional customs duties, the customs authority will request a certificate of origin together with other documents.

Turkey has very strict conservation measures to protect the development of domestic industry.

Manufacturing of products in Turkey has increased markedly and some additional taxes have recently been imposed.

Lately, it has been required in government tenders that 50% of products used must be local, complete with their certificates of origin.

Relevant regulations are as follows:

  • Law on Prevention of Unfair Competition in Importation (Law No. 3577).

  • Decision on Protection Measures on Importation.

  • Decision on Management of Quota and Tariff Contingent on Importation.

  • Decision on Implementation of Observance on Importation.

  • Decision on Observance and Protection Measures on Importation of Specific Textile Products.

  • Decision on Observance and Protection Measures on Importation of Textile Products on Specific Country Origin except Reciprocal Agreements, Protocols and Other Regulations.

  • Decision on Protection of Turkey's Trade Rights.

  • Decision on Protection Measures on Importation of Republic of China Origin Products.

 
33. Can customs decisions and import restrictions be challenged?

There is a right to challenge customs decisions in court (Article 242, Customs Law).

 

Trade remedies

Regulatory framework

34. What are the main regulations and authorities responsible for investigating and deciding on trade remedies?

Regulatory framework

The Ministry of Economy implements the following:

  • Agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

  • Domestic regulations referred to in Article 4 of the Import Regime Decree.

  • Anti-dumping measures.

  • Subsidies.

  • Protection and surveillance measures, which are defined as non-tariff barriers to avoid (serious) damages caused by the import of similar or directly competitive goods to domestic producers.

Non-tariff common commercial policy measures that are implemented by the Ministry of Economy include the following:

  • Import Regulations on Prevention of Unfair Competition.

  • Law on Protection Measures for Import.

  • Import Quota and Tariff Quotas Regulations.

  • Regulations on the Implementation of Supervision of Imports.

  • Legislation on Surveillance and Safeguard Measures on Certain Textile Products Imports.

  • Bilateral agreements.

  • Protocols.

  • Other arrangements related to the Regulations on Textile Products originating from certain countries and concerning Oversight and Safeguards.

  • Turkey's legislation on the protection of commercial rights.

  • Import measures regarding the People's Republic of China.

The Ministry of Customs and Trade has issued some guidance on fighting corruption, as follows:

  • Law numbered 5176 and dated 25 May 2004 Establishing Council of Ethics for Public Service and Amending Some Laws.

  • Regulation on the Principles of Ethical Behaviour of Public Officials and Application Procedures and Essentials (published in the Official Gazette on 13 April 2005 and numbered 25785).

  • Circular letter about the professional ethics principles of customs staff.

Regulatory authority

In some cases, the Ministry of Economy will impose trade remedies directly. Customs offices have the authority to implement and track such remedies. If there is any damage caused by dumped imports, an investigation is conducted by the director general of imports to calculate it. An investigation can be initiated against dumped imports following complaints from domestic manufacturers. If it is found that damage has been caused, measures can be imposed against the import of certain products.

 

Investigations and enforcement

35. What are the requirements and procedure to start trade remedies investigations?

If a complaint is made by domestic producers under the Law on Prevention of Unfair Competition in Importation (Law No. 3577), it is possible to initiate the following measures:

  • Safeguard.

  • Anti-dumping.

  • Expiry review.

  • Anti-circumvention.

The Ministry of Economy provides questionnaire forms for complaint applications, as follows (in Turkish, since all correspondence must be in Turkish):

  • Dumping and subsidy investigations complaint guide and form (www.ekonomi.gov.tr/portal/content/conn/UCM/uuid/dDocName:EK-126265).

  • Expiry review investigation complaint form (www.ekonomi.gov.tr/portal/content/conn/UCM/uuid/dDocName:EK-126264).

 

Appeals

36. Is there a right of appeal against the authority's decision? What is the applicable procedure?

An appeal can be lodged through either:

  • Submitting an administrative objection letter directly to the Ministry of Economy (within 60 days after publication of the measure).

  • Filing an administrative suit in court (within 60 days after publication of the measure).

If a letter is submitted directly to the Ministry, it will suspend any period for appeal to the court. Filing a suit in court is a long process, taking a year or more and all findings will be evaluated by the judge(s).

 

Exports

Regulatory framework

37. What are the main requirements to export goods from your jurisdiction?

A receipt for the goods and an exporting country certificate of origin is needed (if any) for export transactions.

Exporters must be members of an export association and pay an annual membership fee.

Relevant regulations and decisions include:

  • Export Regime Decision (22 December 1995 no. 95/7623).

  • Export Regulation (published in the Official Gazette dated 6 June 2006 no. 26190).

 
38. Are certain categories of goods subject to specific export quotas, restraints or other controls?

Specific export rules and controls include:

  • Payment to the support and price stabilisation fund export for substances subject to premium cuts.

  • Special accounts for export of assets acquired under loan facilities.

  • Exportation under the natural gas agreement between Turkey and Russia.

  • Export to countries that apply quantity restrictions to Turkey's exported goods.

  • Export to countries that are subject to economic restrictions pursuant to a decision of the United Nations.

  • Under the Regulations Regarding Organic Agriculture Essentials and Implementation (published in Official Journal no. 25841 on 10 June 2005), the following goods are subject to certification:

    • raw olive oil and processed cast or barrel olive oil;

    • liquorice root;

    • raw sepiolite and tracing pipe;

    • goods under the Vienna Agreement Regarding The Protection of The Ozone Layer and its protocols (in relation to signatory countries only);

    • raw olives in bag, sack and boxed;

    • original intestine;

    • living sheep, goat, cattle and horses;

    • conical pepper;

    • raw olive (unfermented);

    • scrap and eruption of copper and zinc;

    • dolomite, coloured and veined marble, onyx, travertine;

    • cement;

    • pickles;

    • pine kernel (except interior pine kernels); and

    • wheat adulterated, black wheat, mixed wheat and rye.

 

Penalties

39. What are the consequences of non-compliance with export regulations?

Under anti-smuggling laws, any person that takes prohibited goods outside the country can be punished with at least one year and up to three years' imprisonment, or up to 5,000 days of judicial fine.

The penalties for non-compliance with export regulations are as follows:

  • When export is prohibited under general regulatory administrative acts: a fine twice that of the product's bonded warehouse fee is payable.

  • When a good is exported without the necessary compliance certificate or conditions: a judicial fine equivalent to the product's bonded warehouse fee.

 

International trade restrictions

Trade sanctions

40. Are there specific restrictions on trade with certain jurisdictions?

There was a Free Trade Agreement about pan-European cumulation of origin between Turkey and Syria. However, this agreement has been suspended after a decision of the Council of Ministers.

Turkey applies sanctions on trade with certain jurisdictions (for example, Iran and North Korea). The restrictions enter into force following a decision of the Council of Ministers.

 
41. What is the authority responsible for imposing trade restrictions?

The Ministry of Economy is responsible for imposing trade restrictions. Customs offices are authorised to apply such decisions.

 
42. What are the consequences of non-compliance with trade restrictions?

Non-compliance with trade restrictions can result in imprisonment, criminal fines or administrative fines (Article 3, Anti-Trafficking Law and Articles 234 and 235, Customs Law).

 
43. Are businesses subject to specific compliance requirements? What practical steps should a business take to ensure compliance with trade restrictions?

There are no specific compliance requirements for businesses. It is common for the relevant ministries and offices as well as non-governmental organisations to schedule occasional training/compliance programmes.

 

Foreign trade barriers

44. What is the procedure for local exporters to complain against foreign trade barriers contrary to the WTO or other trade agreements?

Interested parties can complain to the Directorate General of Exports of the Ministry of Economy about foreign trade barriers. There is no specific procedure.

 

The regulatory authorities

Ministry of Economy

W www.ekonomi.gov.tr/portal/faces/home

Principal responsibilities. The main responsibilities of the Ministry of Economy are as follows:

  • Determining the main objectives and policies relating to international trade and enforcing trade policies.

  • Taking measures to develop foreign trade, export-oriented trade and economic activities abroad and implementing such measures.

  • Ensuring implementation and co-ordination between related public and private agencies and organisations.



Online resources

Turkish legislation

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr

Description. This is the official and up-to-date website for Turkish legislation. The website is maintained by the General Directorate of Legislative Development and Publication.



Contributor profiles

M Fevzi Toksoy, Founding Partner

Actecon

T+ 90 212 211 50 11
F+ 90 212 211 32 22
E fevzi.toksoy@actecon.com
W www.actecon.com

Professional qualifications. Competition Law Consultant

Areas of practice. EU and Turkish competition laws; anti-trust; international trade remedies; M&A transactions.

Non-professional qualifications. Master degrees in EU law and economics, Istanbul University and Brussels University (ULB); PhD in EU competition law

Recent transactions

  • Represented Actera Group for the acquisition of Çelebi Ground Services and Joker/MaxiToys.

  • Represented Ordu Yardımlaşma Kurumu in relation to the acquisition of Denizli Çimento.

  • Represented RORO Investments in relation to the merger control filing involving Actera Partners, Esas Holding and UN RO-RO.

Languages. Turkish, English, French

Professional associations/memberships.

  • Expert member of the Competition Law and WTO Committees of the Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists' Association (TUSIAD).

  • Associate Member of the American Bar Association (ABA).

  • Member of the Antitrust and M&A Committees and national reporter of the International Antitrust Committee. 

  • Lectures EU and Turkish competition law at the Marmara University EU Institute and lectures occasionally on "mergers and acquisitions", "international trade remedies" and "competition law aspects of EU and Turkish environmental law".

Publications

  • Private Antitrust Litigation: Turkey – Getting the Deal Through (2015 and 2016).

  • Trade & Customs: Turkey – Getting the Deal Through (2015 and 2016)

  • Regulation, Deregulation and Competition Law in Liberal Professions (Rekabet Dergisi/Competition Journal, Turkish Competition Authority, 2013).

  • Regulation in Liberal Professions (Liberal Düşünce, 2012/67).

Sinem Uğur

Actecon

T+ 90 212 211 50 11
F+ 90 212 211 32 22
E sinem.ugur@actecon.com
W www.actecon.com

Professional qualifications. Turkey, Attorney-at-Law

Areas of practice. Competition; anti-trust; regulation; international trade and government affairs.

Non-professional qualifications. Certified public translator for German and English in Turkey

 Languages. Turkish, English, German, French

 Professional associations/memberships. Istanbul Bar Association.

Publications

  • Private Antitrust Litigation: Turkey – Getting the Deal Through (2015 and 2016).

  • Ethics and Competition, InMagazine (2015).

  • Wind of Change in the Motor Vehicle Sector, Fleet and Rent-a-Car Magazine (2015).

  • Recidivism in Turkish Competition Law, Annual Symposium on Recent Developments at Turkish Competition Authority (2014).

Kenan Güler

Güler & Dinamik Customs Consultancy Inc.

T+90 (212) 657 41 41
F+ 90 (212) 630 40 44
E kenan.guler@gulerdinamik.com.tr
W www.gulerdinamik.com.tr

Professional qualifications. Customs Consultant; Certified International Trade Adviser (CITA), UK Institute of Export

Areas of practice. Customs; international trade.

Non-professional qualifications. BA, Anadolu University; Postgraduate degree in international trade, Istanbul Commerce University; PhD candidate in international trade, Istanbul Commerce University

Recent transactions. Handling customs transactions and providing advice to numerous companies on customs and trade for more than 28 years.

Languages. Turkish, English

Professional associations/memberships.

  • Istanbul Customs Consultants Association.

  • UK Institute of Export.

Cüneyt Yetgin

Güler & Dinamik Customs Consultancy Inc.

T+90 (212) 657 41 41
F+ 90 (212) 630 40 44
E cuneyt.yetgin@gulerdinamik.com.tr
W www.gulerdinamik.com.tr

Professional qualifications. Certified International Trade Adviser (CITA), UK Institute of Export

Areas of practice. Customs; international trade; forensic document examination; ethics and compliance with customs and international trade regulations.

Non-professional qualifications. Postgraduate degree in international trade, Istanbul Commerce University; PhD candidate in International Trade, Istanbul Commerce University

Languages. Turkish, English

Professional associations/memberships. UK Institute of Export.


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