Many foreign entrepreneurs feel that Turkish legislation in the areas of import, export and business establishment is obscure and counter-productive. This idea can probably be ascribed to ignorance or lack of information.

Of course it is essential for any company entering into business in a foreign country to know the applicable local legal rules and regulations that must be adhered to. This also goes for Turkey. Offenders who violate these rules will face the Turkish law enforcement which is – as in every civilized country – strict but righteous.

[Turkey is not a developing country where things can only be achieved by bribing the right people. For those who are prepared to play by the rules and also know the unwritten rules of the game – or have an advisor who does: if ever there was a chance to seize the tremendous business opportunities that Turkey offers it is right now!]

Since the beginning of the millennium, the Turkish government has pursued an active policy of economic stimulation and reforms to improve the country’s economy and to attract foreign investors. For foreign enterprises who wish to enter the Turkish market, these are the most important recent changes in Turkish legislation:

The Revised Commercial Code

On 1 July 2012, with the introduction of the revised Turkish Commercial Code, which had only come into force in 2011, a total of 55 formal and substantive changes came into effect. Some of the most notable changes are:

  • The general obligation for enterprises and merchants to have a website has been withdrawn
  • The rule that at least one in four of the directors of each company must have a university degree has been abolished.
  • The ban on shareholders of a company to contract loans no longer exists.
  • The obligation to bring existing business statutes in line with the new legislation was postponed until after October 2012.
  • The deadline for adjusting all information on business stationery to the new, legally required standards was extended to 1 January 2014.

Other changes relate to accounting certification, independent financial auditing and the electronic commercial register. Furthermore, improvements were made in the protection of data.

New investment incentives program

The new incentives program which was approved by the Turkish Government in 2012, once again puts particular emphasis on the development of structurally weak regions in the country. For this reason, the regional distribution of the measures plays a major role in this program. All 81 provinces are divided into 6 zones.

Without exception, the 15 provinces that form the least-developed zone no.6 are located in Turkey’s southeast and east. Minister of Economic Affairs Zafer Caglayan, who introduced the new system in the city of Sanliurfa, said that the government had deliberately chosen to practice positive discrimination in favour of these regions. Minister of Labour Faruk Celik said that the system is also aiming at the exploitation of the opportunities in those provinces, with a view to the export target of $ 500 billion in 2023.

The incentives are divided into four sub-programs:

  • A program of large investments from YTL 50 million
  • A program of strategic, export-oriented projects
  • A general program of investment measures
  • A program of regional incentives

Support tools that are used include VAT refund, low interest rates, subsidies for employers’ contributions to social security and the allocation of plots for new industrial establishments.

See the table on the page on Economics on this website.

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