Cablegate: Turkish Quarantine Regs-Oops They've Done It Again

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 Quarantine Regs-Oops They've Done it Again

Ref:(A) 2002 Ankara 9192 (B) Ankara 441 (C)Ankara 1035

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary. Despite recent assurances from the
Ministry of Agriculture officials that new quarantine
regulations would not go into affect until July 2004, Turkey
announced and implemented new phytosanitary regulations on
July 6, 2003. Most foreign embassies, trade associations and
trading companies were unaware of the announcement. A
translated version has been sent to USDA electronically.
Ankara had reminded Turkish officials that any new
regulations should be notified through the WTO to no avail.
End Summary.

Quarantine Regulations: A Complicated History

2. (SBU) As part of its EU harmonization process, Turkey
issued new phytosanitary regulations in July 2002 with an
implementation date of January 2003. Unfortunately, the
2002 regulations included some fairly onerous requirements
and, as a result, trade in corn and wheat practically
stopped in January 2003. Pressure from the various groups
including the Turkish Feed Association, international
trading companies and foreign embassies resulted in a
suspension of the 2002 regulations. Between February and
June 2003, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture's Protection
and Control Secretariat solicited input from various groups
including USDA in order to rewrite the regulations. As the
process dragged on, we were informed from various sources
that new regulations would be announced but that they would
not be implemented until 2004.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Turkish Regulations - Coming Sooner that Anticipated
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. (SBU) On July 7, FAS/Ankara was notified that the
Turkish Protection and Control Department in the Ministry of
Agriculture had published and implemented new quarantine
regulations and that implementation would be immediate. We
had met with Abdulmecit Yesil, the head of the quarantine
section of Protection and Control, at the beginning of June
to discuss this issue. We were informed that the regulations
would be published shortly and distributed to all Embassies
in Ankara. At the same time, Yesil again stated that the
new regulations would not go into effect until July 2004. As
late as last Friday, the Cargill/Ankara representative had
spoken with Turkish officials who assured him that the new
regulations would be delayed by one year. According to a
trade contact, there was some sort of dispute between
Protection and Control and the Prime Minister's legal office
who demanded immediate implementation. As a result, the new
regulations went into effect in 2003 instead of 2004 as
originally planned.

Some Changes

4. (SBU) We again met with Yesil on July 7. He announced
that Protection and Control had no choice in the
announcement and that implementation had to be immediate,
for the most part. He noted that some provisions would be
phased in over the course of three months. We have not been
able to determine whether this 3-month grace period is in
place. These changes would be related to EU harmonization
and European Plant Protection Organization (EPPO)
regulations, but he was not specific.

5. (SBU) Yesil stated that an English translation of the
document was in its final stages and would be distributed to
embassies in Ankara. This translation has subsequently been
received and sent to Washington electronically. According
to Yesil, testing for fusarium, a highly controversial part
of the July 2003 regulations has been dropped as has the
inconsistencies related to kiln-dried wood products.

--------------------------------------------- -
Private Sector - New Regs May Not be a Problem
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (SBU) We contacted several companies and associations
as well as western embassies regarding the announcement.
Most were unaware of the new regulations. Cargill/Istanbul
did know about the announcement and their impression was
that it would not affect imports of corn or wheat from any
country. Comment. In addition, some provisions may be
delayed for 90 days. End comment. However, until we are
able to do a closer examination of the regulations, we
cannot confirm. Note: Oilseeds and cotton, two of the
largest commodities the U.S. exports to Turkey, are not
covered by the regulations. End note. Cargill officials
did say that planting seeds could be affected by the
regulation. Calls to several embassies showed that none
were aware of the announcement. We have contacted traders
who are currently unloading corn shipments. There have been
no delays or problems with the current certificates.

WTO Notifications - A Nice Try

7. (SBU) Turkey's record on adhering to WTO rules has been
inconsistent at the very least. In fact many, although not
all, frustrations with Turkish ag trade policy could be
avoided if Turkish officials were more transparent. In
June, knowing that the new regulations would soon be
published, we reminded the Ministry of Agriculture and the
Under Secretariat for Foreign Trade that any change in their
regulations should be notified through the WTO. We were
assured, as we have been many times in the past that Turkey
would comply with their WTO responsibilities. However, it
came as no surprise that notifications had not been made.

Comment: Good Response but No Cigar

8. (SBU) We have received an English translation of the
regulations and have sent it to USDA electronically. We
have also sent a letter to the Director of Protection and
Control requesting a 90-day delay in implementation. In
general, we have found most officials at the Ministry of
Agriculture to be helpful over the past several months.
Protection and Control officials were not only willing but
requested U.S. input for the regulations that we have taken
as encouraging sign. However, in the end their abrupt
announcement and the absence of any official notification
only serves to question the ability and willingness of the
Turkish government to comply with international trade rules.


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