Trade barriers and import levies
There is a lot of confusion about the import levies and other trade-restricting measures imposed by Turkey on the import of horticultural products. In this article, Monique Heemskerk, our Turkey/Eurasia manager, presents the factual answers to the most commonly asked questions.
How high are the import levies that Turkey imposes on horticultural products?
'Turkey does not have one single, fixed import levy on all horticultural products. The import levies differ by product group: cut flowers 46.8%, green and flowering plants (indoor) 19.5%, outdoor plants 3.9%, bulbs 6.3% and young plants 3.9%.
What other trade barriers does Turkey have?
'Only growers are permitted to import horticultural products into Turkey (so you must actually have a nursery), which must also apply for a permit from the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture. These importing growers can build up an import-free base, which strengthens their position and makes importing easier.
How does the total package of import measures work in practice?
'The package of measures affects the Turkish horticultural sector in four different ways. The most important consequence is that a select group of growers/importers has built up an import-free base. They are mostly trade growers who not only import but also export to companies in Eurasia. They actually determine which domestic and import products reach the Turkish market and which products are exported. The threshold to becoming an importer is high because of the required permit, the import levies and the import-free base that has to be built up.
The second important consequence is that due to the trade restrictions, Turkish growers are not stimulated externally to improve and expand their production or to innovate. The products that they produce are always sold - as there is nothing better.
The third consequence is that consumers have less choice and
have to accept the quality of the horticultural products on offer.
This is a wasted opportunity since the Turkish economy continues to
grow year in and year out, and research has shown that consumers
are always prepared to spend money on horticultural products.
Finally, the measures encourage 'alternative trade solutions': flowering plants are supplied immature, for example, so they can be imported as green plants.
How likely is this situation to change?
'Very. The Turkey/Eurasia programme started by analysing the market (Turkey/Eurasia), gathering knowledge and constructing a local network. In our contacts with the Turkish pressure groups, we have managed to convince both growers and the export organisation that lowering the trade barriers is important for the development of the Turkish horticultural sector. In other words, if we strengthen each other in terms of knowledge, expertise and networks, the horticultural business in Turkey and Eurasia will grow: that benefits both Royal FloraHolland and its members and customers and Turkish entrepreneurs.
That got us into the position of negotiating directly with the responsible ministries - and independent of political influences - about lowering the trade barriers. And we were successful. On October 3, Turkish pressure groups and Royal FloraHolland signed a covenant in the presence of Lucas Vos (former CEO Royal FloraHolland) and the Turkish Minister of Economic Affairs, which described how the Turkish horticultural sector and Royal FloraHolland are going to collaborate to raise the level of the agricultural sector and realise the joint ambitions to remove the trade barriers.