Cablegate: Implementation of Mandatory Importers

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

031452Z Nov 04




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Implementation of Mandatory Importers
Associations Postponed

Ref: Ankara 3240

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please Handle Accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: GOT plans to create mandatory
membership organizations for importers have not been
implemented, apparently due to widespread business
opposition. The GOT is considering an alternate kind of
organization, a joint (mandatory membership) foreign
trade association including both importers and
exporters. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Reftel reported GOT plans to create mandatory
membership organizations for importers, ostensibly for
the purposes of improving collection of statistical
information, combating smuggling and the informal
economy, and supporting importers competing in
international trade. A number of business groups
opposed the measure, fearing it could impede trade by
interfering in pricing and quality standards for
imported goods, and by imposing extra documentary
requirements and fees on imports as well as membership
fees on importing companies.

3. (SBU) Naci Akin, Director of Business Development and
Investment Consultancy, at the Turkish Union of Chambers
(TOBB) told us October 1 that all major business
organizations are against the creation of importers'
unions, and that TOBB Chair Hisarciklioglu continues to
debate this issue with State Minister Tuzmen. Akin
pointed out that these bodies were supposed to have been
established by July 2004, but they have not been
implemented yet. Mustafa Alper, Director General of the
Foreign Investors Association (YASED) told us that
business has succeeded in blocking full implementation
of the associations, at least for now, though some
steps, such as the nomination of a secretary general,
have been taken.

4. (SBU) Murat Yapici, the Foreign Trade
Undersecretariat's (FT) Deputy Director General for
Imports, told Econoff October 25 that several steps
toward forming the importers associations have taken
place, but the plan has not been fully implemented.
Seven sectoral importers associations were created,
leadership boards were selected and a provisional USD 2
million budget was set. However, the leadership for a
national structure has not been chosen. Yapici told us
that member companies "were not ready", and cited
problems in information technology systems and other
administrative issues.

5. (SBU) Yapici told us that FT is considering an
alternate structure merging importers' and exporters'
unions into a single "foreign trade association". This
would have the advantage of using the resources and
infrastructure already in place at TIM, the Turkish
Exporters' Assembly. However, no firm decisions have
been taken on this subject, and he implied that there
was no definite timetable for further action.

6. (SBU) Comment: It appears that business opposition
has succeeded in blocking the importers' associations
for the time being. Given the statist and
interventionist mentality of many Turkish officials and
the temptation to use nontariff measures to put a brake
on imports, the GOT may well return to this idea in the
future. Embassy will continue to follow this issue and
report impact on trade, if any.

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