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20 Mart 2019 Çarşamba - 16:03

'Quotas And Tolls' Will Be The Most Important Headlines In The Updates Of The Customs Union

As part of our "European Union and Quotas" file, T.R. Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has made an exclusive statement to MY TRUCK Magazine. The Ministry officials have emphasized that being a part of the Customs Union without being an EU member state prevents us from taking full advantage of the benefits of the Customs Union, and shared important details about the solution of the issue.

 Quotas And Tolls  Will Be The Most Important Headlines In The Updates Of The Customs Union

European Union and the Customs Union advocate the free movement of goods, business people and capital.  However, practices like tolls, quotas and visa fees render these freedoms practically impossible to apply for Turkey. We've consulted with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure for their views on the issue and they've emphasized that being a part of the Customs Union without being an EU member state prevents us from taking full advantage of the benefits of the Customs Union, and shared important details about the solution of the issue.  

"Being A Part of The Customs Union Without Being an EU Member State Prevents Us from Taking Full Advantage of The Benefits of The Customs Union"

Can you evaluate our international road transport in the context of EU and Customs Union, especially in terms of transit documents, quotas and driver visas?

Turkey's candidate status at the EU was officially approved in 1999, and in 2005 formally began accession talks with the EU. As confirmed by the progress reports of the EU, our country has largely harmonized its road transport legislation with the EU in the framework of its harmonization efforts. Additionally, our country has also been a member of the EU Customs Union since 1996. However, being a part of the Customs Union without being an EU member state prevents us from taking full advantage of the benefits of the Customs Union. For example, there is free movement of goods within the framework of the Customs Union; however, EU applies quotas and tolls to the vehicles that will transport these goods and they demand visas from the drivers who will drive these vehicles.

"It Negatively Impacts Our Competitivity"

Restrictions like quotas, tolls and driver visas impact the competitivity of our companies against countries like Bulgaria and Romania, while slowing down and making our trade with the EU expensive. Our Ministry is making great efforts to resolve these restrictions implemented by EU countries, in accordance with the rights of our country arising from the Customs Union. Due to our persistent efforts, the European Commission has carried out a study in 2014. This study titled “Study on The Economic Impact of An Agreement Between the EU and The Republic of Turkey" (Impact Assessment Study), has confirmed that the EU-imposed quota restrictions imposed restrictions and cost burdens on transport services and that if these restrictions were abolished, it would deliver positive boost to the trade of both EU and Turkey (1.9 billion Euros for Turkey's exports to the EU, 1.9 billion Euros for Turkey's imports from the EU). However, although EU acknowledges the issue, it is acting slow for the solution of the problem and refers the issue to the updates for the Customs Union planned between Turkey and the EU. Quotas and tolls will be among the most important headlines in the updates of the Customs Union.

"Certain EU Member States Like Bulgaria and Greece Continue to Demand Tolls"

What are the practices of the European Union and the Customs Union for Turkey? Are there any conflicting or mutually supporting issues? If so, what are they?

 Throughout the years, our country has strongly claimed during the meetings with the EU and its members states that; according to the Article 4 of the EC-Turkey Association Council Decision 1/95 establishing the Customs Union between Turkey and the EU, the tolls required for logistics is an effective tax and that especially countries like Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania cannot impose tolls. As a matter of fact, European Court of Justice's (ABAD) decision dated 19 October 2017 has verified the legitimacy of our country's claims. As a result, the Hungarian side no longer demands toll from Turkish transporters, while some EU countries, such as Bulgaria and Greece, still continue to impose tolls. The issue also came up during the meetings with the EU, but the EU is still slow to take action. EU also recommends that the transit document quotas issue should be bilaterally negotiated with member states. However, the EU addresses its transportation policy as a whole. Countries like as Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary have signed a Road Transport Agreement with the EU during their candidacy processes prior to their accession to the EU, and gradually abolished their quotas and tolls through these agreements. As a candidate for EU membership, we also want to make a similar agreement and solve the issue by making a single agreement instead of negotiating each quota and toll with the member states. However, unfortunately the EU doesn't make a positive approach towards this issue.

"We Have Bilateral Agreements With 59 Countries"

Accordingly, what is the course of action in the bilateral KUKK meetings? During these meetings, what are the criterias for determining and implementing transit document and quotas for various countries? Are these treaties based on reciprocity?

Our country constantly brings up the abolition of fees that cause unfair competition, liberalization of bilateral and transit transports, and the facilitation of transportation during bilateral meetings with the member states (KUKK) as well as multilateral meetings like the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), and our activities are based on this basic policy. Currently we have bilateral road transportation agreements with 59 countries. We have liberalized bilateral and/or transit transports with 24 of these countries. However, for example, when you are travelling to Azerbaijan, you have to go through Georgia or when you're travelling to Central Asia, you have to go through Iran and when you're going to Germany, you have to go through Bulgaria, Georgia or even Austria. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO); despite the freedom of transit, countries can impose certain restrictions to the foreign vehicles passing through their lands or make certain demands in return for a permit of transit (like transit tolls, 3rd country certificate). During the negotiations, each country demands quotas according to the requirements of their own transporters. Transportation is an important source of employment and income for most countries. That's why countries can pursue a protective policy for any increase in quotas. For example, Russia and Kazakhstan. Countries like Austria, Italy and Slovenia are in favour of transit restrictions mostly due to environmental reasons (such as environmental pollution, noise pollution, traffic intensity). Our Ministry's top priority is to abolish these applications if they lead to unfair competition against our transporters in the opposite countries. Our basic principle is to conduct transportation without discrimination and under equal competition conditions. However, if we can't overcome this injustice through diplomatic initiatives, we are forced to take necessary measures according to reciprocity.

 "30-35 Percent of Our Exports Carried by Road"

Since international transportation directly effects exports and has a great importance for the Turkish economy; what are the main issues of international transport that needs to be solved? What are the roles of the parties in this matter?

Today, approximately 30-35 percent of our exports are carried by road. Accordingly, road transport has an important role in the exports and foreign trade of our country. We can list the major problems of the sector as; transit document quotas, high transit tolls, driver visas, mode enforcements, different standards and applications. As the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, we are trying to overcome these issues at both bilateral and multilateral meetings. We have made a lot of progress for the solution of these issues.

”Number of International Export Transports Reaches 1.3 Million“

For example, 2018 was an efficient year for quotas. The number of Uzbekistan transit document quotas rose from 12,000 to 18,000, while the number of French multi-entry transit document quotas rose from 700 to 2,000, and the number of Romanian transit document quotas rose from 36 thousand to 55 thousand. Upon further review, these numbers had a positive impact on our transports. In 2017, the number of international export transports was 1.1 million while this number has reached 1.3 million in 2018. It is a great pleasure to see that our efforts have produced results in such a short notice.

"New Transportation Markets with China, Algeria, Qatar and Libya"

What can be done in the future for the development of international transportation and the elimination of its limitations?

Located on the main trade corridors, right at the intersection point of continents; our nation is a very important country in international road transportation sector with its experience, strong corporate structure and modern fleet. Today, with the help of our geographical advantage, our transporters conduct 1.3 million trips to 70 countries on 3 different continents by road. Our top priorities are to reach new transport markets and develop alternative transportation corridors. In 2017, we've signed a road transportation agreement with China and the ratification process still continues. In 2018, we started negotiations for a road transportation agreement with Algeria. We've proposed agreements to countries like Qatar and Libya. When these agreements take effect, our transporters will be able to operate in a much larger geography.

"There Is Still a Lack of a Common Ground for Road Transportation"

On the other hand, international road transportation is a tricky business. Unlike aviation or maritime transport, there is still a lack of a common ground for international road transportation among nations. Every country follows different policies and implements different standards and applications. Unfortunately, road transportation can be rapidly affected by political developments. That's why certain problems still haven't been overcome. Our Ministry is striving to carry our international transportation to much higher levels in accordance with our country's goals. We invite representatives from other institutions as well as private sector representatives to our meetings; we are in constant communication. We strive to solve the problems together and find the best outcome for our sector, in accordance with the interests of our country. We always say that there is strength in numbers. From international meetings to high levels visits and even technical meetings, our goal is to solve the issues at every level according to the same goals. That's why we believe that we will soon be announcing good news to our transporters for the solution of the current problems.

"Gümrük Birliği’nin Güncellenmesinde En Önemli Başlıklar, 'Kotalar ve Geçiş Ücretleri' Olacak"
Boşça: 'Türkiye Enerji Merkezi Konumunda'
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