The Turkish Competition Authority and The WTO

Competition Policy has been a subject of particular interest in negotiations held within the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Singapore Ministerial Summit (1996) established that the Trade and Competition Policy was one of the so-called "Singapore Issues", and attached high importance to it. The Doha Development Agenda (2001) has also attached importance to Competition Policy and its mutual relationship with international trade. Following the deadlock encountered in the Cancun Ministerial Meeting (September 2003), the WTO General Council decided to leave the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy outside the negotiations in mid-2004. Therefore, the Working Group on the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy (WGTCP) established to study the subject of competition policy within the WTO is currently inactive. The Turkish Competition Authority, which takes into consideration the very obvious mutual relationship between international trade and competition policy has attended meetings held by WGTCP.

In 2002, a Coordination Board with the WTO was created by a Prime Ministerial circular to ensure effective cooperation in national preparations and determine national views in respect of the WTO negotiations. The Turkish Competition Authority is a member of the Coordination Board. In the first meeting of the Coordination Board, a working group as to trade and competition has been set up involving representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Turkish Competition Authority, the Undersecretariat of the Prime Ministry for Foreign Trade, and the State Planning Organization. The Turkish Competition Authority representatives attended WGTCP meetings in February and May 2003 before the Cancun Ministerial Conference, and based on discussions held during these meetings, an the opinion of the Turkish Competition Authority in respect of a potential framework agreement about competition has been drafted so as to be taken into consideration by the working group. In brief, the opinion of the Turkish Competition Authority favors concluding a potential framework agreement within the WTO, which is based on binding principles such as transparency, non-discrimination, due process, and prohibition of hard-core cartels and which pays attention to the requirements of developing or less developed countries. Despite the fact that the subject-matter of trade and competition has been left outside the negotiations, the Turkish Competition Authority continues to attend meetings of the Coordination Board for being informed about the work in progress. Furthermore, the Directorate of International Relations still follows up the current developments in the WTO.

The WTO also conducts a peer review mechanism under the name of the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). Impacts of individual members upon the functioning of a multilateral trade system, which are defined as their shares in the world trade, would be the determinant while deciding on the frequency of TPRM. The first four trading members (EU, USA, Japan and China) would be subject to TPRM every two years whereas the next 16 members would be reviewed every four years. The other members would be reviewed every six years. Exceptionally a longer duration may be determined for less developed member countries. Turkey would be subject to TPRM every four years. As compared with the equivalent review of the OECD, the TPRM focuses on trade policies and practices and their impacts on the functioning of a multilateral trade system. Therefore, the section as regards competition generally forms a part of the entire TPRM report. Turkey was subject to the TPRM in 1994, 1998, 2003 and finally 2007. In the TPRM report of 2003, there existed criticisms as to overlapping responsibilities of the Telecommunications Authority and the Turkish Competition Authority in competition investigations, and more clarity was sought as to which agency possessed genuine authority in matters where there were competition concerns. Other than these, very few criticisms related to competition rules took place. In the TPRM report of 2007, following assessment regarding the Turkish Competition Authority exists: “The Competition Authority has developed a reputation as one of Turkey's most effective and best administered agencies, having played an important role in moving it towards the competition-based and consumer-welfare-oriented economies.”