17 and 19 December 2003

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Continued reforms needed to improve economic performance

This meeting has allowed us to improve our understanding of the developments in the trade policies and practices of Turkey since its previous Review in 1998, and of the challenges that lie ahead. Our dialogue has been thorough and comprehensive, stimulated by Ms. Ülker Güzel, Undersecretary of Foreign Trade, and her delegation, as well as by the incisive comments by our Discussant, H.E. Ambassador Péter Balás.

Members appreciated steps taken by Turkey to stabilize its economy, and encouraged it to continue its structural reforms. They praised Turkey for the 2002-04 reform programme, initiated in response to the 2000-01 economic crisis. Members expressed hope that the programme would help redress Turkey’s economic situation which remained fragile, with high inflation and public indebtedness, and economic growth alternating with recession.

Members noted Turkey’s commitment to the multilateral trading system and to the WTO. Some Members noted that accession to the EU remained Turkey’s ultimate objective. In this context, Turkey’s trade policies are increasingly being pursued through bilateral and regional trade agreements in order to comply with its obligations under the customs union with the EU. Some Members expressed concern that participation in preferential arrangements might further complicate Turkey’s trade regime. Some Members remarked that Turkey was applying non- ad valorem tariffs to products on which it bound tariffs at ad valorem rates. They pointed out that further tariff reform, including reduction of the margins between bound and applied rates, would enhance the predictability of the tariff regime. Concerns were expressed about Turkey’s relatively large use of anti-dumping measures.

Members praised Turkey’s wide-ranging 2001-05 programme to restructure agriculture, but called attention to the insulation of the sector from competition as a result of its exclusion from Turkey’s preferential trade agreements, high tariff protection and government support. They commended Turkey for having taken steps to liberalize the electricity and natural gas subsectors, and for addressing some structural problems faced by services activities, such as banking and telecommunications.

Members also sought clarification on other issues, notably: customs procedures; internal taxation; import licensing; standards and SPS; export and investment incentives; government procurement; protection of intellectual property rights; state involvement in mining, energy and manufacturing; and trade reforms in various services subsectors.

Members expressed their appreciation for the responses to their questions as provided by the Turkish delegation; they looked forward to receiving written answers to any outstanding questions.

In conclusion, it is my belief that the large number of advance written questions, and the high level of attendance indicate the important role that Turkey plays in the multilateral trading system. I encourage Turkey to continue improving its multilateral commitments and implementing its economic reform programme, with a view to enhancing the predictability and credibility of its trade regime. Trading partners can help by ensuring that their markets are fully open to Turkey’s exports.