Cablegate: Turkish Officials Responding to Quarantine Concerns

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Turkish Officials Responding to Quarantine Concerns

Ref: Ankara 9192

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary. In the weeks following the
implementation of Turkey's new phytosanitary regulations,
Turkish agriculture and quarantine officials have been
socked with objections and concerns expressed by Turkish
industry, importers and embassies. Although Turkish
quarantine officials have thus far refused to suspend the
new regulations that went into effect in early January,
there appears to be some acknowledgement that the
regulations may be overly restrictive. Imports of
agricultural products to Turkey have been disrupted from
most countries. For the United States, corn exports to
Turkey have been halted because of the regulations. End

New Regs and Trade

2. (SBU) Turkey began enforcing its new phytosanitary
regulations at the beginning of January. (reftel) In the
weeks following, agriculture imports to Turkey have been
impaired from many countries. FAS/Ankara has received
reports of a slowdown in imports from Kazakhstan, Germany as
well as the United States. Thus far, grain shipments have
been affected the most, however, imports of rice, plants and
wood products may also faced problems. Moreover, the
restrictions on imports had caused an immediate rise in
Turkey's domestic corn prices from $140 - $180 per ton and
rising. We know of at least 2 U.S. purchases of corn which
have been cancelled due to the new regulations. One year
ago, in January 2002, the U.S. shipped approximately $12-$14
million of corn to Turkey.

Turkey's Agribusinesses Express Concern

3. (SBU) On January 13, representatives from the Turkish
Feed Millers Association, Seed Association and Poultry
Association visited FAS/Ankara to discuss the new
regulations. Industry officials complained that either they
were not informed about the development of the new
regulations or their comments on the regulations were
ignored. The Turkish feed and poultry industries depend
heavily on imports in order to meet demand. Turkey does not
produce enough corn or soybeans to meet local demand in the
poultry sector. Private sector officials have met with the
new Minister as well as his advisors to express their
concern with the new regulations. Although the Minister and
his advisors expressed sympathy, no action to reverse the
regulations has been taken thus far. The Turkish Seed Trade
Association Chairman explained that Turkish regulatory
officials do not work constructively with the private sector
in developing regulations or seeking their advice in order
to avoid negatively impacting business practices. Instead,
Turkish officials believe that all regulations even onerous
ones should and can be complied with by industry.

Protection and Control Meeting

4. (SBU) On January 14, AgCounselor and AgAtt met with the
Deputy Director General for Protection and Control, Hulusi
Utebay. Several issues related to grains and wood products
were raised as well as a repeated request to suspend the
regulations until U.S. officials had time to review and
consult with Turkish officials. Dr. Utebay stated
emphatically that the regulations had been announced and
that they had no intention of suspending them. During the
meeting, Dr. Utebaye avoided responding to questions related
to Turkey's failure to notify the WTO, the scientific
justification of the new regulations and subsequent
revisions to the new regulations. Dr. Utebay did leave the
door open to further technical discussions on the
regulations. In addition, Dr. Utebay did agree that the
original English translation of the regulation for rice was
incorrect and that the correct translation allowed for rice
shipments to be "free of Aphelenchoides besseyi or

5. (SBU) As instructed by USDA's Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS) FAS/Ankara raised concerns that
the Fusarium certification requirements for grain were
overly restrictive and could not be met by U.S. officials.
Furthermore, FAS/Ankara highlighted the fact that Fusarium
species are not quarantine pests for Turkey nor are they
under an official control program. We also requested that
these requirements be scientifically justified.

6. (SBU) The Deputy General Director indicated that he had
ample scientific justification for the new requirements, as
fusarium species create micotoxins that are harmful to
plants, animals and humans. He also indicated that this
requirement was necessary because Turkey had no ability to
prevent imported corn for food and feed from being used as
seed. Our information indicates that only Hungary may be
willing to issue a phytosanitary certificate that meets the
fusarium requirements. Traders indicated that no major
suppliers have agreed to certify shipments.

7. (SBU) The scientist who developed the fusarium
requirements was present in the meeting, and elaborated on
Turkey's concern in this area. It became evident that the
scientist had read articles on the presence of fusarium
species in the United States and Canada and deduced that the
fungi pose a widespread health risk to plants, animals and

Some Good News

8. (SBU) On January 15, Protection and Control officials
met with representatives from the private sector as well as
some major U.S. trading companies. According to an office
contact, all of the private sector representatives
criticized the new regulations and indicated that a drop in
imports would have serious consequences for the Turkish
poultry sector. Turkish officials were told that, unless
shipments were restored, Turkish poultry operations would
face increasingly prohibitive costs by March 1. Another
private trader stated that turkey already pays $22 million a
year in demurrage costs and that any further requirements
would further increase costs.

Comment: Some Signs of Change

9. (SBU) Although there has been no resolution of the
problem, Turkish quarantine officials may finally be getting
the message. An FAS/Ankara trade contact noted that Turkish
quarantine officials promised to review the situation and
request information from experts as well as foreign
embassies. This may be the first indication that the
situation may yet be resolved. Although their handling of
the situation initially was poor, Turkish private sector
officials noted that it is unprecedented for the Turkish
government to even solicit private sector input, even if it
was after the fact. Time will tell whether Turkish
officials will respond positively to private sector input,
but it is a first step. However, even if the government
waives or suspends fusarium requirements, there may be still
numerous concerns in the new requirements that may affect

10. (SBU) FAS/Ankara has sent a letter on January 16 to the
office of Protection and Control offering, after consulting
with Washington, to send a team of technical experts to
Turkey to discuss and perhaps resolve some of the more
onerous points of the regulations. Turkish officials
responded immediately and said they would be willing to host
U.S. officials on February 6 and 7. FAS/Ankara believes
that such a visit will be very constructive.

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