1 CUSTOMS UNION: AN END IN ITSELF OR A STEP TOWARDS ACCESSION? Prof. Dr. Canan Balkır Sedef Eylemer İlkay Taş Graduate Department of EU Studies, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir.
2 The Path towards the Customs Union Ankara Agreement establishing an association between Turkey and the EEC was signed on 12 September Article 28 of Ankara Agreement states: As soon as the operation of this Agreement has advanced far enough to justify envisaging full acceptance by Turkey of the obligations arising out of the Treaty establishing the Community, the Contracting Parties shall examine the possibility of the accession of Turkey to the Community. The Ankara agreement envisioned three phases: a five-year preparation period, a transition period (two separate periods of 12 and 22 years as of 1973), by the end of which a Customs Union was to be completed. the final period following the launching of the Customs Union.
3 The timetable of the transitional stage was upset by the oil crisis and the following global recession of the mid 1970s. In 1978 Turkey took the step of freezing the terms of the Association Agreement under Article 60 of the Additional Protocol, which allowed both parties to take the requisite measures in case of fundamental sectoral or regional disruption or disruption of general economic stability. The relations of Turkey with the Community came to a standstill after the military intervention in 1980.
4 With Turkey s 1980 stabilization and structural adjustment program, aiming to integrate the domestic economy with the global economy, Turkey had made radical changes in its economic structure. The Community has also reversed its stance, by reactivating the Association Agreement. The western-oriented business community began to voice the idea of application for EC membership. This was also backed up in other circles, not only for economic reasons but also to protect the recently gained civilian democracy. Thus on 14 April 1987, when Turkey applied for full membership, economic considerations were still at the forefront of the discussion.
5 The Commission, in its reply in 1989, stated that along with the economic and political drawbacks concerning Turkey, the Community would not be able to accept a new member until it had completed its internal market harmonization; and suggested the reactivation of the Association Agreement and proposed a set of measures towards increasing interdependence between the partners which included the completion of the CU. Customs Union between Turkey and the EU took effect on 1 January 1996 with Association Council decision 1/95.
6 Scope of the CU The CU mainly involves the free circulation of industrial goods between Turkey and EU and excludes trade in agricultural goods. Its basic components are the elimination of all customs duties and quantitative restrictions in trade of industrial goods; alignment of Turkish customs tariffs with the Common Custom Tariffs (CCT); harmonisation of Turkey s commercial policy with the Common Commercial Policy; progressive adoption of the EU s preferential trade agreements with third countries by Turkey; alignment of Turkish legislation with EU legislation in the areas of competition rules and protection of intellectual, industrial and commercial property rights. Thus, the CU doesn t just mean opening to trade competition from the EU but also a considerable degree of policy dependency.
7 Perspectives on the Customs Union Turkey has become the only country realizing CU without becoming a full member, while the latest ten new countries have adopted the acquis on CU upon their full membership to the EU, two of them being even granted a further period of full adoption for certain goods. The EU s ex-ambassador to Turkey, Michael Lake, explained the situation as follows: The customs union created misconceptions on both sides. The European side felt that Turkey would be preoccupied with making it work and not press for full membership for the time being, while Turkey had the misconception that the customs union was a stepping stone towards full membership in the next year or two
8 Customs Union: A Scapegoat for EU Opponents? The debate concerning the CU in Turkey has been basically between the defenders who believe that the CU will yield positive results in the long term, and the opponents, who argue that it will harm Turkey s economic interest. The CU as a cure-all that would impose discipline on the domestic market, correct the foreign trade imbalance, provide financial resource, and promote foreign investment. The CU as a reason of deficiencies in the Turkish economy
9 Prior to the CU ( ) Commitments Payments Implementation Rate Loan Grant Following the CU ( ) Commitments Payments Implementation Rate Loan Grant Grant Loan Financial Aspects % 63 % 80 % 17 % 33 % 37 % 7 Candidacy Process Commitments ( ) million (Loan: m & Grant: 453 m) million (Loan: 927 m & Grant: 78 m) million Loan: m & Grant: 768 m 755,3 million Loan: 557 m & Grant: 52 m : 698 m : m : m. Source: Turkish Secretariat General for the EU Affairs, abgs.gov.tr.
10 Croatia Allocation of Pre-Accession Assistance among Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries Population Total Financial Support for (Euro) *Per capita Financial Support for (Euro) The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Serbia Montenegro Albania Bosnia and Herzegovina Turkey Source: European Commission Enlargement Website, ; Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework for
11 The Implications of the Customs Union for Turkey
12 The Impact on Foreign Trade The CU trade creation trade diversion The Breakdown of Turkey s Foreign Trade By Country Group (%) * Export EU Non-EU Import EU Non-EU * EU-25 after May 2004 Source: Undersecretary of Foreign Trade, Turkey
13 The Impact on Foreign Trade The Share of the EU in Turkey s Foreign Trade (%) Years Year (EU-27) Export The Share of Turkey in EU s Foreign Trade (%) Share in total extra EU exports (%) Import Volume Share in total extra EU imports (%) 1.70 *EU-25 after May 2004 Source: Undersecretary of Foreign Trade, Turkey;, Panorama of European Union Trade Data , 2007 edition, s
14 Considering the significance of agriculture in Turkey s foreign trade and economy, the exclusion of agricultural goods from the CU creates a major setback. Turkey is a net exporter in agricultural products, the EU being the first destination The share of agriculture in the merchandise trade increased to 10.7% in 2007 from 5.7% in 2006 and 6.7% in The relative share of agriculture fell from 10.3% of GDP in 2005 to 9.2% in The share of agriculture in total employment declined from 30% in 2005 to 27% in 2006
15 Lehmann, Herzer, Zarzoso and Vollmer (2007) Although a full integration of Turkish agriculture seems quite costly if today s CAP and structural fund rules were applied, the abolition of all tariffs or tariff-like protection would certainly be an effective measure for strengthening and increasing Turkish agricultural exports to the EU.
16 Labour productivity per person employed EU-27 EU-15 Bulgaria Poland Romania Turkey (e) 46.7 (e) n.a (e) (f) 41.0 (f) 62.4 (f) e) Estimated value (f) Forecast *GDP in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) per person employed relative to EU-27 (EU-27 = 100)
17 The Impact on Foreign Direct Investment Although CU was not a big impetus, the decision of December 2004 for the opening of negotiations with Turkey on 3rd October 2005 had a positive impact on the FDI inflow, largely driven by inflows from privatisations.
18 Foreign Direct Investment According to the European Commission s 2007 Progress Report on Turkey, Foreign direct investment inflows to Turkey increased by 105%, reaching 15.2 billion in Foreign investor interest continued in 2007, and FDI inflows reached 8.8 billion in the first half of the year (higher than the 6.7 billion recorded in the first half of 2006). Between 2002 and 2006 approximately 75% of FDI inflows to Turkey have been from the EU countries. Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, UK and Italy are among the major countries investing in Turkey. Apart from these large international investor countries, there are also EU countries ranking high in 2006 because of one big deal such as Greece (Finansbank( Finansbank) ) and Austria (Petrol Ofisi).
19 Impact on Employment Turkey s population growth will still remain much more dynamic compared to other EU members. However, a growing population provides economic opportunity only if employment increases as well. It was assumed that the CU would contribute to the solution of unemployment problem through the use of low labour costs to attract foreign direct investment. However, more than a decade of o implementation of the CU has proved that the mentioned assumption is not valid. The unemployment rate was 5.9 % in 1997; it rose to 8.5% and 10.6% in 2001 and 2002 respectively. The main factor behind this rise in unemployment was the sharp economic crisis and the restructuring process in the banking sector and state-owned enterprises which also led to a decrease in the employment rate from 45.5% in 1997 to 44.6% in 2001 and to 43.5% in The unemployment was 9.9% and the employment rate was 43.1 % in 2007.
20 Alignment with the Competition Policy Concerning the regulatory framework of competition, such as state subsidies, anti-trust trust law, and the law concerning industrial and intellectual property rights, Turkey was expected to bring its legislation in line with that of the EC. According to the Progress Report of Turkey in 2007, harmonization with the antitrust acquis is well advanced. The level of enforcement by the Competition Authority is satisfactory. Turkey was to adapt all aid schemes other than those granted to the textile and clothing sector to the rules laid down in Community frameworks and guidelines under 87 and 88 of EC Treaty within two years after the entry into force of the CU. However, Turkey failed to adopt legislation on state aid and also o to establish an independent state aid monitoring authority. According to the Progress Report of 2007, their absence delays the t adoption of implementing rules for competition under the Customs Union Decision 1/95 and results in serious distortions of competition.
21 Alignment with the Common Commercial Policy As the Community has granted trade preferences to many third countries through either bilateral trade agreements or unilateral decisions, the application of the common customs tariff obliges Turkey to give preferential access to its markets to the countries to which the EC has given or will give preferential access Not being in the decision mechanism, Turkey has no voice in the agreements that the EU concludes with third countries. Complaints have been voiced regarding the neglect by the EU of the necessity of consultation with Turkey before the EU starts a FTA negotiation with a third country. Although Turkey, due to CU, has to give the same concessions provided by the EU to these third countries, they are generally reluctant to give the same trade concessions to Turkey.
22 The situation may get more complex as the EU aims to increase its FTAs within the context of its new strategy introduced by a communication titled Global Europe- Competing in the World dated 4 October 2006 For instance, it is expected that in the near future, EU will conclude FTAs with Korea and India which are also important trade partners of Turkey.
23 Political Implications of the Customs Union Turkey, being a candidate country since the Helsinki Summit of 1999, started accession negotiations on 3 October Nevertheless, the CU still forms an important part of the relations between Turkey and the EU.
24 The accession of G. Cyprus to the EU has raised a politically sensitive issue between Turkey and the EU concerning the Additional Protocol extending the EC Turkey Association Agreement to 10 new countries. Negotiation Framework Document for Turkey states that the advancement of negotiations will be guided by Turkey s progress in preparing for accession and this progress will be measured in particular against some requirements. The fulfilment of Turkey's obligations under the Association Agreement and its Additional Protocol extending the Association Agreement to all new EU Member States, in particular those pertaining to the EU- Turkey customs union is among these requirements.
25 Turkey s refusal to open its ports and airports to trade from Greek Cyprus, resulted in the partial suspension of accession negotiations between Turkey and EU. Following the Commission s recommendation on 29 November 2006, EU foreign Ministers decided, on 11 December 2006, to partially suspend negotiations with Turkey for eight of thirty-five chapters including the chapter on customs union
26 The screening report issued on 9 March 2007 highlights the considerable level of alignment of the Turkish customs law with the acquis. Discrepancies stated in the screening report covers issues such as control at the borders, customs status of goods, duty relief, rules of origin, counterfeit, free zones which are considered as being outside Turkey s customs territory The screening report as long as restrictions on free movement of goods carried by vessels and airplanes registered in Cyprus or where the last port of call was Cyprus remain, Turkey will not be in a position to fully implement the acquis relating to the EU-Turkey customs union.
27 Conclusion The impact of the CU on Turkish economy does not seem to be negative, but far from fulfilling the expectations. The failure of the financial obligations to be met by the EU gave rise to frustration on the Turkish side, strengthening the euro sceptic trends in Turkey. Given the share of agriculture in trade and the share of service sector in the Turkish economy, the exclusion of both sectors from CU is a major disadvantage to Turkey.
28 Given the fact that Turkey, not being in the decision-making mechanisms of the EU, cannot participate in the EU s FTA negotiations with the third countries and such a relationship seems hardly sustainable in the long run. Customs Union between Turkey and the EU is not a kind of relationship in itself, but should be regarded rather as an integral part of a gradual process of integration.
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