EU customs bias

Limited quotas and visa barriers on Turkish transporte­rs are hurting trade with the EU

Dünya Executive - - COVER PAGE - AYSEL YUCEL

According to studies and industry experts, quota and visa barriers on transporta­tion of goods to the EU cause the most damage to the German economy. The solution, therefore, lies in Germany.

In an exclusive interview with daily DUNYA, Germany’s Ambassador to Turkey, Martin Erdmann, said the modernizat­ion of the customs union agreement between the EU and Turkey is essential and it will increase opportunit­ies for both sides. Erdmann also said that there were some obstacles to the functionin­g of the Customs Union.

Internatio­nal Transporte­rs’ Associatio­n (UND) Strategy and Business Developmen­t President, Fatih Sener, said they are very pleased with the ambassador’s statements because as an associatio­n, they have been struggling to remove these barriers. “Although the ambassador points out the commercial obstacles in terms of EU countries, we also want to draw attention to the importance of addressing the obstacles in transport of goods,” he noted.

Sener emphasized that the problems experience­d in transporta­tion to the EU have caused great harm to the Turkish economy as well as the German economy, and that is why the solution is in Germany. “The fact that the Customs Union does not function effectivel­y due to the restrictiv­e

transition document quotas some EU member states apply to Turkish transporte­rs, causes difficulti­es for both Turkish and European economies, especially Germany, and increases costs day by day,” he said. “German and Turkish products are losing their competitiv­eness.” In the process of the revision of the Customs Union, this issue must be considered and restrictio­ns on transit should be removed, he added.

“This improvemen­t in transit transport will provide significan­t benefits for both German companies and EU companies based in Turkey. All these difficulti­es seem to harm Turkey but it actually harms the German economy. Along with German companies based in Turkey, which have a sig

nificant share in Turkey’s exports, our vehicles transport the German products to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq. Therefore, with its strong position in the EU, Germany should take the initiative and support us in solving these problems.”

According to the current version of the Customs Union, the movement of Turkish goods within the EU customs zone is free. However, due to inadequate transit quotas, trucks carrying exported goods experience a crossing barrier while drivers face a visa barrier.

“However, the Ankara Agreement and the Additional Protocol provide solutions to all these problems,” Sener said. “The bias against Turkey in the existing applicatio­ns must be resolved in the Customs Union, scheduled to be updated. We are making 150,000 trips a year carrying Germany’s exports to Turkey and vice versa. However, our right to pass through Austria, which lies just before Germany, is limited to 21,000 while our right to pass through Hungary is only 36,000. As highlighte­d in the report by the World Bank to evaluate the 20th year of the EU-Turkey Customs Union, the obstacles to the movement of goods under the Customs Union should be removed.”

3.5 billion euros additional trade

Sener recalled the results of the analysis published by the EU Commission in 2014. According to this, the single highway agreement to be signed between Turkey and the EU will result in a positive jump in trade, productivi­ty and employment for both sides, with total trade expected to increase by 3.5 billion euros.

According to research by German IFO, 20 minutes of additional checks at the two Schengen borders causes a 1.3 percent contractio­n in trade between Turkey and Germany creating 250 million euros in losses. “As this is the reality, we think that the problems of long waiting times at the borders, crossing document quotas and provision of visas should be questioned,” he said.

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