Edition 35: 19 December 2016
Editorial Team:
Dr. E. Seyfi Moroğlu, LL.M., Işık Özdoğan, LL.M. and Bora İkiler, LL.M.
Latest Measures Within Turkey’s State of Emergency Include Shifting Trustee Duties and Courts Receiving Discretion to Grant Stay Orders

Turkey has taken a series of new measures involving companies and public institutions in the wake of the State of Emergency declared on 21 July 2016. Notable recent measures include shifting trustee duties for entities deemed to be connection with terrorist organizations to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund. Also, courts can now decide not to issue stay orders in cases filed about decisions made in the scope of State of Emergency statutory decrees and transactions. Mayors receive the power to terminate municipality agreements with terror-linked entities, as well as the Council of Ministers becomes able to postpone strikes and lock-outs for sixty days on the basis they will disturb stability.

Notable recent changes and measures include:

– The duties and authorizations of trustees assigned to companies due to the company’s connection with terrorist organizations are terminated and transferred to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (“Fund”).

– The Fund is authorized to undertake sale and liquidation transactions for companies under its management and supervision.

– Courts can decide not to issue stay orders in cases filed about decisions made in the scope of State of Emergency statutory decrees and transactions.

– Entities liquidated due to their connections with terrorist organizations and determined by the National Security Council to be active in similar acts against national security cannot demand any compensation for the liquidation.

– The Council of Ministers receives authority to postpone strikes and lock-outs for sixty days on the basis they will disturb stability in the general health, national security, public transport or banking services.

– Mayors can terminate municipality agreements with contractors, (as well as subsidiaries and associations which have more than 50% share) due to connections with terrorist organizations.

– Where the Fund has been appointed as trustee, the assets of partners and managers who are guarantors for the company (or third party natural or legal persons associated with them) will be applied primarily to pay company’s debts. The Fund is entitled to sell these assets.

– The Fund is exempt from certain prohibited transactions. These includes foreclosure, preservation, sale, and bankruptcy decision on all kinds of rights and receivables of the assets constituting commercial and economic integrity.

– The Development Bank of Turkey will carry out the Program of Attraction Centers to stimulate the investment ratio in less developed regions.

– People connected with terrorist organizations may not participate directly, indirectly or subcontractually in public agreements, on their own behalf, or on behalf of others.

– Goods purchased for regional and technological development can be purchased partly or collectively by cooperation between administrations and tenderers. Goods purchases are only open to tenderers which propose to use Turkish-produced goods, or purchases in provinces subject to the regional development program.

– The monetary limit for administrations to the State Supply Office has been doubled from two trillion three hundred billion Turkish liras to four trillion six hundred billion Turkish liras.

Please see the links below for full text of the related legislation (only available in Turkish):

Statutory Decree No 677 on Taking Certain Measures Within The Scope of The State of Emergency, published in Official Gazette number 29896 on 22 November 2016.

– Statutory Decree No 678 on Taking Certain Measures Within The Scope of The State of Emergency, published in Official Gazette number 29896 on 22 November 2016.

– Law No 6755 on Measures to be taken regarding the State of Emergency, published in Official Gazette number 29898 on 24 November 2016.

– Law No 6758 on Making Certain Arrangements within the scope of the State of Emergency, published in the Official Gazette number 29898 on 24 November 2016.

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Turkey Announces Employer Obligations for Automatic Pension System

Turkey has announced secondary legislation outlining details for the newly introduced automatic private pension scheme, which will take effect from 1 January 2017 (more). The details particularly address employer obligations for participating in the scheme, as well as dealing with employee contributions.

Prime Ministry Circular No 2016/26 regarding Automatic Participation in Private Pension System (“Circular”) was published in Official Gazette number 29990 on 26 November 2016. The Circular outlines details for the automatic pension scheme (”Scheme”), introduced by the Law on Personal Pension Savings and Investment System No 4632 (“Law”).

The Circular outlines details of employers’ obligations to:

– Execute agreements with one (or more) authorized pension companies.

– Determine authorized directors for executing pension agreements on behalf of central and/or provincial units.

– Provide pension schemes to employees within the scope of the Law.

– Transfer contributions taken from salaries to the pension companies in due time.

– Take internal measures to enable data sharing, as well as correctly calculate and collect contributions.

Employers which fail to meet their obligations will be subject to administrative fines from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Employers which do not transfer contributions to the pension companies in due time will be liable for the financial losses which occurs in the relevant employee’s savings.

Please see this link for full text of the Circular (only available in Turkish).

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Company Founders In Turkey Must Now Attend Trade Registry to Sign Articles of Association

Turkey has updated and clarified procedures for company founders to sign articles of association at the establishment phase. For companies which have drafted articles of association via the Central Registration System, the founders must now actually attend the trade registry where the company will be established to sign. Previously, founders could sign before a notary, rather than attending the registry.

A range of changes are determined under the Communique on the Signing of the Articles of Association of the Companies Before the Trade Registry Offices (“Communiqué”), published in Official Gazette number 29910 on 6 December 2016, entering into effect on the same date.

Notable requirements and clarifications introduced by the Communiqué include:

– For companies which have drafted articles of association via the Central Registration System (Mersis), the company founders must attend the trade registry where the company will be established to sign. Previously, founders were only required to sign before a notary, rather than attending the registry.

– Turkish citizen company founders must submit ID, passport, or driving license to the trade registry.

– Foreign company founders must submit their passport to the trade registry.

– If the articles of association will be signed by the founder’s legal representative, a notarized proxy issued in the representative’s name must be present. The trade registry manager will evaluate the document evidencing the applicant’s identity.

– If an amendment is made to the articles of association after signing and stamping, the applicants must submit an amendment statement. The statement will be added to the articles of association.

– Applications for company establishment registration must be made within three months of the articles of association being signed before trade registry office. Otherwise, applicants must submit a statement indicating that they will establish a company.

– Service fees for registration application documents under the Communique must not be more than the minimum wage.

– Trade registry offices can issue signature specimens.

Please see this link for the full text of the Communique (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Amends Natural Gas License Regime

Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (“Authority”) has amended certain rules for natural gas licences, including rules for merging distribution regions into a single licence, determining licence exempt activities and natural gas storage obligations.

The Regulation Amending the Natural Gas Market License Regulation (“Amendment Regulation”) was published in Official Gazette number 29865 on 23 November 2016. The Amendment Regulation makes changes to the Natural Gas Market License Regulation (“Regulation”) published in Official Gazette number 24869 on 7 September 2002.

Significant changes made by the Amendment Regulation include:

– Companies which are not engaged in selling natural gas but use compressed natural gas (CNG) as fuel in their own vehicles are exempt from being required to obtain a licence, provided they comply with certain technical criteria and meet obligations arising under other legislation (for example, obtaining necessary permissions, licenses and approval).

– License holder can now request distribution zones be merged into a single license, or existing distribution zones be divided into multiple zones. To do so, the Energy Market Regulatory Board (“Board”) must find the change technically and economically feasible. The Board will consider network integrity and regional proximity in terms of operational efficiency when considering merger requests.

– The Board has discretion to set the natural gas storage obligation ratio for underground gas storage which will apply to import companies (to be reached within five years) if the national natural gas storage capacity is sufficient to enable all natural gas import companies to comply with their annual natural gas storage requirements. The ratio must not exceed 20% of the total gas to be imported within a specific year. Existing underground storage capacity will be considered when determining the ratio.

– Amendment fees will no longer apply to change a license holder’s commercial title, or change of company type (excludes import, storage and distribution licenses). Changes to the commercial title or company type for the direct shareholders of the licence holder also become exempt from licence amendment fees.

– License holders must now separately pay amendment fees for each licence amendment if the licence holder asks to amend more than one item in its licence. Separate fees apply even if multiple changes are requested is a single application.

– License holders must advise changes to their notification address in writing to the Authority at least three days before the change occurs.

– Submission of criminal records to the Board is no longer required for share transfers of the licence holders by:

– A real person holding more than 10% in the transferee company.

– All real person transferees.

Please see this link for the full text of the Amendment Regulation (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Updates Reimbursement Scheme for Investments in Electricity Transmission Assets

Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (“Authority”) has updated the methodology for determining government reimbursements for investments in building new electricity transmission facilities, as well as lines to connect production and consumption facilities to the transmission system.

The methodology is used to calculate reimbursements for such construction where:

– The Turkish Electricity Transmission Corporation (“TEİAŞ”) had insufficient funds, or

– TEİAŞ failed to make an investment plan in a timely manner and new electricity transmission facilities and lines were required for electricity production and consumption facilities to enable connection to the electricity transmission system.

The former reimbursement methodology has been annulled (numbered 5557, 9 April 2015). The new Methodology will apply to reimbursements to legal entities which were previously subject to the former methodologies.

Please see this link for full text of the Resolution published in the Official Gazette numbered 29900 on 26 November 2016 (only available in Turkish)

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Turkey Imposes Storage Obligation on Companies Importing Natural Gas

Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (“Authority”) has introduced new rules for natural gas importers. The rules introduce thresholds of natural gas which importers must be store in underground facilities within five years, as well as related document procedures.

The Authority’s Decisions (“Decisions”) were published in Official Gazette number 29882 on 8 November 2016, effective from the same date.

A storage obligation is imposed on natural gas importing companies, natural gas distribution companies and legal entities selling natural gas to eligible consumers.

Accordingly, companies importing natural gas via pipe line must store a certain percentages of natural gas in underground facilities within 5 years.

– 6% of total annual imports for companies with import licenses.

– 2% of total annual imports for companies with wholesale and spot liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) licenses.

Importers must reserve capacity in underground storage facilities for their full storage obligation amount.

Companies importing natural gas under a long term LNG agreement are deemed to have fulfilled their storage obligation by obtaining services from a LNG storage facility. However, if the nation’s overall underground natural gas storage capacity reaches 20% of the total natural gas which will be imported that year, these companies will also become subject to a storage obligation.

Suppliers must submit their Storage Services Agreement to the Authority within seven business days of finalizing the capacity reservation.

Please see below links for the full text of the Authority’s Decisions. (only available in Turkish):

– Decision number 6574-4, dated 3 November 2016

– Decision number 6574-6, dated 3 November 2016

– Decision number 6574-7, dated 3 November 2016

– Decision number 6574-8, dated 3 November 2016

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Turkey and Venezuela Sign Cooperation Agreement for Energy Sector

Turkey and Venezuela have signed an extensive cooperation agreement in the energy sector, aiming to develop and promote the oil, gas and petro-chemical sectors.

Turkey’s Council of Ministers ratified the Agreement between the Governments of the Republic of Turkey and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on Cooperation in the Field of Energy (“Agreement”), announced in Official Gazette number 29890 on 16 November 2016.

The Agreement outlines several methods for the countries to improve their oil, gas and petro-chemical cooperation:

– Exchange information and experiences in development of the energy sector (excluding government secrets).

– Promote joint investments to explore and extract hydrocarbon resources, as well as market the end products.

– Establish joint ventures in the oil industry.

– Joint organization of seminars and conferences in the hydrocarbon sector.

– Geosciences and the reserve engineering, petrochemical products, exploration, production and refinery of hydrocarbons, processing, storage, marketing, transport and distribution of natural gas and development and maintenance of infrastructure projects for hydrocarbons and associated technologies.

A Joint Energy Working Group will be formed to discuss the topics above, convening annually. Information may not be disclosed to third parties without obtaining prior written approval from the disclosing party, and will be preserved in accordance with local law.

The Agreement does not affect the sovereignty rights of the parties within their territories or its natural resources, nor does it limit the parties from signing agreements of similar nature with the third parties.

The Agreement enters into force once both countries have notified each that their respective internal legal procedures have been completed.

Please see this link for full text of this Agreement (available in Turkish, English and Spanish).

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Turkey Introduces Legislative Regime for Court Experts

Turkey has introduced a legislative regime for experts involved in judicial processes, including procedures and principles for experts’ qualifications, training, selection and supervision. Regional Committees are introduced, located at regional courts of justice. These committees will establish and maintain lists of experts, as well as supervise and audit individuals.

The Law on Experts (“Law”) was published in Official Gazette number 29898 on 24 November 2016.

The Law states that:

– Expert reports must not address issues which do not require special or technical knowledge.

– Experts cannot make legal assessment and evaluations.

– Courts must clearly state the problem and the scope of the matter to be examined when appointing experts.

The Law establishes the Expert Consultation Committee to propose solutions for execution of expert services. The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice will preside over the Committee.

The Law also establishes regional expert committees (“Regional Committee”), located at each regional court of justice. The duties of Regional Committees are to:

– Ensure expert services are carried out in accordance with the relevant legislation.

– Accept someone as an expert and deciding whether to register the individual in the experts register and on the experts list.

– Create experts lists according to basic and sub specialty areas of registered experts.

– Decide on the removal of experts from the expert register and experts list.

– Supervise experts and measure their performance.

– Enable private legal entities to carry out expertise activities, cancel their permits, as well as audit their expert activities and reports.

Applications for expertise must be made in writing (including relevant documents) to:

– Regional Committees.

– The justice commission of the civil or criminal court of first instance. Applications will be referred on to the relevant Regional Committee.

– Administrative court of first instance where the person concerned:

– Conducts professional activities, or

– Resides.

Regional Committees will inspect experts either ex officio, or by application. Such inspections will consider experts’ compliance with the relevant legislation regarding their attitudes and behaviors related to their duties or reports.

The Law amends provisions in other legislation regarding experts:

– Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law.

– Law on Establishment and Trial Procedural of Military Courts.

– Military High Administrative Court Law.

– Administrative Jurisdiction Procedures Law.

– Institution of Forensic Medicine Law.

– Judges and Public Prosecutors Law.

– Law of Expropriation.

– Turkish Criminal Law.

– Code of Criminal Procedure.

– Code of Civil Procedure.

– Law on the Use and Protection of Worn Historic and Cultural Immovable Properties by Renewal.

The Law makes significant amendments to the Institution of Forensic Medicine Law. Accordingly, from 1 September 2017:

– The Forensic Medicine General Assembly, is divided into three Supreme Councils of Forensic Medicine.

– Two Forensic Medicine Specialization Councils are added to the existing six councils.

The Law also makes significant amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure. Accordingly:

– Experts are now selected from the list prepared by the Regional Committee, rather than the annual lists prepared by the justice commission.

– Civil servants will not be appointed as experts in cases related to the institutions which they are affiliated to.

If an expert does not submit his/her report within the determined time, the parties can ask the court to terminate the expert’s services, as well as suspend or remove the expert from the expert list. The Law states that such requests must now be made to Regional Committee, rather than to the court.

Please see this link for the full text of the Law (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Updates Treasury Support Scheme to Encourage Access to Finance

Turkey has updated procedures and principles for the Undersecretariat of Treasury’s (“Treasury”) activities to support financial lease companies and banks which are shareholders of credit guarantee institutions. Amendments aim to improve access to finance for SMEs and non-SME beneficiaries. The changes include tradesman, craftsmen and self-employed persons, agricultural enterprises and farmers, provided they are deemed to be SMEs.

The Council of Ministers Decree on Treasury Support Provided to Credit Guarantee Institutions numbered 2016/9538 (“Decree”) was published in Official Gazette number 29896 on 22 November 2016, entering into effect on the same date.

Under the Decree, the Treasury’s support continues to be provided through Kredi Garanti Fonu A.Ş. (“Institution”), subject to an agreement with the Treasury.

Key changes introduced by the Decree include:

– Special provisions have been removed regarding Small and Medium Size Enterprises, Women Entrepreneurs, Manufacturing Industry Investments, Shipbuilding Industry and Travel Agencies (first included in February 2015).

– The Decree removes sector-specific upper limits for guarantees. Accordingly, the 2 billion TL upper limit on guarantee of shipbuilding industry credits has been lifted.

– The total amount of guarantee provided by the Authority within the scope of the Decree increases from 10 billion TL to 20 billion TL. The amount which can be transferred from the Undersecretariat to the Authority has increased from 1 billion TL to 2 billion TL.

– Post-default debt enforcements processes will now be carried out by creditors. Post-default enforcement processes of exporter loans with 100% guarantee through Eximbank will be carried out by the Authority. Prior legislation was silent as to who should undertake enforcement processes.

– A Portfolio Guarantee System is introduced, whereby the Undersecretariat will indemnify credit transactions up to certain caps set by the Authority.

Please see this link for the full text of the Resolution (only available in Turkish).

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Turkish Competition Board: Turkish Pharmacists Association Abused Dominant Position

The Turkish Competition Board (“Board”) recently published a short form decision concluding that the Turkish Pharmacists Association had abused its dominant market position when procuring pharmaceuticals from abroad by executing exclusivity agreements with pharmaceutical suppliers.

To procure pharmaceutical products which are not licensed or not commercially available in Turkey via named patient sales, an undertaking must:

– Obtain a license from the Ministry of Health and,

– Sign a protocol with the Social Security Institution.

A complaint was made by certain undertakings which were licensed by the Ministry of Health, but for which there is no publicly available information about protocols signed with the Social Security Institution.

The Board concluded that the Turkish Pharmacists Association:

– Holds a dominant market position for “procurement of pharmaceuticals from abroad”.

– Abused its dominant position by executing exclusivity agreements with pharmaceutical suppliers.

The Board imposed an administrative monetary fine on the Turkish Pharmacists Association, amounting to 1.5% of its 2015 turnover. The fine amounts to 18,062,307 TL. In deciding the fine, the Board took into account the duration of the infringement and certain mitigating circumstances.

The Board decided to send an opinion letter to the Ministry of Health and Social Security Institution regarding opening the foreign pharmaceutical procurement market up to increased competition.

The full text of the Board’s short-form decision, published on 6 December 2016, is available at this link (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Increases Lower Limit for Fines Relating to Competition Law Infringements 3.83% for 2017

The lower limit for Administrative Fines under the Law on the Protection of Competition number 4054 has increased by 3.83% for 2017, from TRY 17,700 to TRY 18,377. The revised lower limit will apply for administrative fines issued in relation to protection of competition in the goods and services sector, issued between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017.

The increase is introduced by the Communiqué regarding Increase on Sub Limit of Administrative Fine Arising from Article 16 of Law no 4054, Law on the Protection of Competition, published in Official Gazette number 29914 on 10 December 2016 (“Communiqué”). The Communiqué was issued in line with the Ministry of Finance’s 2016 tax revaluation rate, published in the General Communiqué for Tax Procedural Law, published in Official Gazette number 29885 on 11 November 2016 (more).

Please see this link for the full text of the Communiqué (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Increases Monetary Caps for Consumer Arbitration Boards and Increases Fines for 2017

Turkey’s Ministry of Customs and Trade (“Ministry”) has increased the monetary limits for disputes which can be bought to consumer arbitration boards. Administrative fines under the Consumer Protection Law No: 6502 will also increase 3.83% from 1 January 2017.

Arbitration boards exist in Turkey to settle disputes arising from consumer law (Article 68 of the Consumer Protection Law No: 6502). The Ministry must form at least one such board in each city center and borough, with each type of board subject to separate monetary jurisdiction limits based on its location. From 1 January 2017, monetary caps and jurisdiction for consumer arbitration boards will be arranged as follows:

– Claims up to TRY 2,400: Boroughs arbitration boards.

– Claims between TRY 2,400-3,610 in provinces which hold metropolis status: Province arbitration boards.

– Claims up to TRY 3,610 in city centres of provinces which do not hold metropolis status: Province arbitration boards.

– Claims between TRY 2,400-3,610 in boroughs of provinces which do not hold metropolis status: Province arbitration boards.

Administrative fines under Article 77 of the Consumer Protection Law No: 6502 will also increase by 3.83% from 1 January 2017, as per the revaluation rate set in Tax Procedure Law General Communiqué Number 474 (more).

Please see the links below for the full text of the relevant Communiqués, both published in Official Gazette number 29907 on 3 December 2016 (only available in Turkish):

– Communiqué regarding Increase of Monetary Limits under Article 68 of the Consumer Protection Law No: 6502 and Article 6 of the Regulation on Consumer Arbitration Boards

– Communiqué regarding Administrative Fines Applicable in 2017 under Article 77 of the Consumer Protection Law No: 6502

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Turkish Constitutional Court: Contradictory Statements By Lower Court About Final Date of Employment Violate Right to Fair Trial

Turkey’s Constitutional Court recently considered a claim that unclear statements in a lower court’s decision about a party’s final date of employment had breached his constitutional right to a fair trial. The Constitutional Court upheld the employee’s claim, holding that contradictory statements could cause the employee to make an error and therefore violate his right of access the court.

In the case at hand, an employee filed a claim against his employer for unpaid receivables. Due to lack of written records, the First Instance Court relied on witness declarations to determine that the employee had worked for the employer for over 27 years.

The First Instance Court partially accepted the employee’s claim, holding that the employment contract was terminated in 2007 due to the workplace closing, but the employee was not paid certain receivables. The employer appealed the decision, but the Court of Cassation approved the lower court’s decision.

The First Instance Court’s reasoning states the employee worked at the workplace between 1 June 1979 and 31 December 2006. However, the termination date for the employment contract is indicated as 31 December 2006, as well as 1 January 2007 (in some parts of the decision).

In December 2012, the employee initiated a separate action to determine the duration of his insurance coverage. The Court held that cases seeking to determine the duration of insurance coverage must be filed within five years, starting from the end of the last year of employment (Article 79(10) of Social Insurance Law No. 506). Accordingly, it rejected the claim on the basis that it was filed after this period had expired. The employee appealed the decision, but the Court of Cassation rejected the appeal.

The employee escalated the matter to the Constitutional Court, claiming unclear statements in the First Instance Court’s decision about the final date of employment had breached his constitutional right to a fair trial (Article 36 of the Constitution).

The Constitutional Court held that the statements in question could cause the employee to make an error and therefore the First Instance Court’s decision was incorrect.

Therefore, the Constitutional Court held that rejecting the case based on time expiring would make it impossible to evaluate the employee’s claims about unpaid receivables and pension rights. It held that the employee’s last day of employment had not been adequately investigated and this violated his right of access the court.

Accordingly, the Constitutional Court sent the case back to the First Instance Court for a re-trial.

Please see this link for full text of the Constitutional Court’s decision, made on 27 September 2016, with application number 2014/16928 (only available in Turkish).

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WIPO Releases 2016 Report Detailing Global Intellectual Property Activity

The World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) has released its 2016 World Intellectual Property Indicators Report (“Report”) outlining territorial rankings on global intellectual property activities during 2015. The Report provides statistics for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and plant varieties. Turkey recorded fast growth in patent applications during 2015, but a slight decrease in trademark applications.

According to WIPO data, patent applications rose globally to 2.9 million. China showed particularly strong grwoth, with 1,010,406 patent applications. The Report notes that on a global scale, the demand for other intellectual property rights has also increased. 2015 trademark applications increased by 15%, as well as design applications increased by 2.3%.

Noteworthy points about Turkey in the Report include:

– Turkey’s global application filing rankings in 2015 are:

– 23rd for patents.

– 9th for trademarks.

– 6th for industrial designs.

– Turkey recorded fast growth in patent applications among low and middle income countries, with 14.6% increase.

– 5,841 patent applications were filed in Turkey during 2015, with 1,723 patents granted.

– 3,583 utility model applications were filed during 2015, with 2,767 applications granted.

– Patent applications from Turkey were mainly filed for pharmaceuticals.

– Turkish trademark applications decreased by 1.9% in 2015. The most trademark applications were made within the business services sector, followed by agriculture, research and technology.

– ETİ Gida Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi was named among the top 2015 Madrid System applicants, with 57 applications.

– 227,273 trademark applications were made in Turkey, with 192,950 trademarks registered.

– Industrial design applications in Turkey decreased by 6% in 2015. The most design applications were made within the furniture and household goods sectors. Despite application numbers decreasing (45,852 in 2015), the Report notes that Turkey increased registrations by 9.5%.

– Between 2014 and 2015, 15,240 plant variety applications were filed around the world. Turkey made 231 filings, contributing 14.4% to the total growth of these applications.

Please see this link for full text of Report.

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Turkey Establishes Trade Facilitation Board to Support WTO Agreement

Turkey has established a local Trade Facilitation Board (“Board”) for local coordination and facilitation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (“Agreement”), approved in February 2016 (more). The Board will develop trade facilitation strategies and action plans, as well as improve efficiency via coordination and cooperation between related parties.

The Board was established and announced by Prime Ministry Circular numbered 2016/27 (“Circular”), published in the Official Gazette number 29907 on 3 December 2016.

Co-presidents of the Board will be the Ministry of Customs and Trade Undersecretary and the Ministry of Economy Undersecretary. The Board will include delegates from various ministries, organizations, chambers and associations, convening to meet Turkey’s obligations under the Agreement.

The Board will meet at least twice per year, as well as whenever a need arises. A Technical Committee will also be established to assist the Board.

The Board’s working procedures, plus principles for the Board and the Technical Committee will be established in the Board’s first meeting. State institutions and organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities and private sector delegates may be invited to meetings when necessary.

State institutions and organizations must provide any necessary assistance to the Board and Technical Committee, to ensure the integrity of their works and coordination.

Please see this link for the full text of the Circular (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Reduces Weight Threshold Where Imports Become Exempt From Surveillance Measures

Turkey’s Ministry of Economy has reduced the weight threshold for imports to be exempt from surveillance measures. Accordingly, the exemption threshold for goods which have unit values below the stipulated CIF value reduces from two tones to 100 kilograms (gross).

Amendments were made to Communiqué No. 2004/20 on Imposing Surveillance Measure for Imports. The amendments were published in Official Gazette number 29868 on 25 October 2016, entering into effect on the same date.

The Surveillance Certificate Application Form has also been amended, along with documents mentioned in Annex-II/2 of the Communiqué. New documents are now required when applying to the Ministry of Economy for surveillance certificates:

– Importer Information Form.

– Importer’s Economic Indicator Form.

– Producing Company’s Economic Indicator Form (if the importer is the producing company).

– Form for the Producer/Importer Company located at the Supplier Country, and the Imported Goods.

– Capacity report demonstrating that the goods within the scope of the Communiqué are used as input in the Company – If this document is not provided, the Form for the Producer/Importer Company located at the Supplier Country, and the Imported Goods must be submitted.

Please see this link for the full text of the amendments (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Adds World Customs Organization Harmonized System’s Classification Decisions to Customs Regime

Turkey’s Ministry of Customs and Trade (“Ministry”) has added the “World Customs Organization Harmonized System’s Classification Decisions” to the Customs General Communiqué Serial No: 24, in an effort to ensure uniform enforcement of Turkish Customs Tariffs.

The products that are in the scope of this regulation are stated in the annex of this Communiqué.

The Ministry published the Communiqué in Official Gazette number 29900 on 26 November 2016, entering into effect on the same date.

Please see this link for the full text of the Communiqué (only available in Turkish).

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Turkey Announces Classification Opinions Within Global Harmonized Commodity Definition System

Turkey has announced Classification Opinions to be implemented in accordance with the International Convention on Harmonized Commodity Definition and Coding System. The system is intended to achieve uniform tariff classification.

Council of Minister’s Decision number 2016/9530 dated 14 November 2016 (“Decision”) was published in Official Gazette number 29912 on 8 December 2016.

The Decision outlines definitions for harmonized commodities and classification opinions of coding systems. The tariff status for various commodity groups are defined and classified in the Decision’s annex.

Please see this link for full text of the Decision (only available in Turkish). The previous Council of Minister’s Decision on the matter has now been abolished.

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Turkey Updates National Occupation Standards, Adding New Professions and Updating Others

Turkey’s Professional Competence Authority has published a range of Communiqués introducing and amending National Occupational Standards for a number of professions.

The Communiqués on National Occupation Standards No 2016/15, 2016/18 and The Communiqués Amending National Occupation Standards No. 2016/16 and 2016/17 were published in Official Gazette number 29898 on 24 December 2016.

In general, Occupational Standards are made up of three sections, contemplating the profile and definition of the profession as well as the method for assessment, evaluation and certification.

The Communiqués specify the working environment, equipment, and other occupational requirements such as necessary health checks and trainings (if any). The Communiqués also outline duties and obligations for members of these professions, as well as success criteria and other personal abilities, such as knowledge, skills and behavior.

The Communiqués introduce Occupation Standards for:

– Olive Oil Production Operator (Level 4)

– Regional Slimming Practitioner (Level 3)

– Skin Care Practitioner (Level 3)

– Fermented Product Production Operator (Level 4)

– Taster (Level 4)

The Communiqués also amend Occupational Standards for:

– Frame House Manufacturer (Level 3)

– Frame House Manufacturer (Level 4)

– Frame House Manufacturer (Level 5)

– Wood Floor Floorer (Level 3)

– Wood Joiner (Level 3)

– Furniture and Decoration Installer (Level 3)

– Furniture and Decoration Installer (Level 4)

– Furniture Upholsterer (Level 3)

– Furniture Upholsterer (Level 4)

– Furniture Upholsterer (Level 5)

Please see these links for full text of the Communiqués (only available in Turkish):

– 2016/15

– 2016/16

– 2016/17

– 2016/18

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Two New Appointments to Turkey’s Data Protection Board

Turkey has taken a further step towards it Data Protection Board (“Board”) being operational, with the President appointing two individuals to the nine person panel: Prof. Dr. Faruk Bilir and Şaban Baba. The Council of Ministers is expected to appoint the final two Board members in the near future. The Board was planned to be operational on 7 October 2016, with certain obligations applying once the Board began working. However, progress has been delayed pending appointment of the individual Board members.

Once all members are appointed, the Board will create and maintain the Data Controller Registry, registrations to such Register will begin and the Board will commence its activities under Data Protection Law numbered 6698 (more).

The first five members of the Board were appointed via decision number 1129 from the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 5 October 2016 (more).  These latest two members were appointed via decisions number 2016/103 and 2016/104, published in Official Gazette number 29920 on 16 December 2016.

Please see the links below for full texts of the President’s appointment decisions (only available in Turkish).

– Presidency Decision numbered 2016/103

– Presidency Decision numbered 2016/104

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