İstanbul, Jan 11 (DHA) - TGDF Chairman President Şemsi Kopuz assessed the food import debate, which didn’t fall from the agenda 2017 and reinvigorated again after Turkey’s meat import from France. Kopuz said that while importing insufficiently supplied products for price stability is beneficial in short term, it could damage the production in the long run. Kopuz also noted that Special Consumption Tax (ÖTV) aimed at some beverages which came into force in January 1st is in contradiction with the determination to combat food price inflation.
Turkish Food and Beverage Industry Organizations Federation’s (TGDF) Chairman Şemsi Kopuz evaluated year 2017 in terms of agriculture and food sector and expressed his expectations for the year 2018.,
Growth in agriculture was low, food sector continued to give more trade surplus
Kopuz remarked that, According to Turkish Statistical Institute’s (TÜİK) Q3 2017 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data, Turkish economy achieved the biggest growth in the world with 11.1 percent in the third quarter; but at the same time, smallest growth took place in the agriculture sector with 2.8 percent. “Growth in agriculture sector was 3.3 percent in the first nine months of the year. Compared to the same period of the previous year, agricultural revenue increased 14 percent to reach 137 billion liras,” he added.
Kopuz underlined that Turkish Food Industry, being a leading industry for many years in its capacity for foreign trade, maintained its success in 2017 as well. TGDF President Kopuz stated that, according to temporary foreign trade data compiled by TÜİK and Ministry of Customs and Trade, food and beverage exports in first 10 months of 2017 reached to 8.71 billon percent, imports totaled 3.94 billion dollars. “Food and beverage sector’s trade surplus was 4.77 billion percent in the January-October 2017 period,” TGDF president said.
Import in agriculture and food without tariff
Kopuz told that reducing or completely cancelling tariffs of some agriculture and food products was a much debated issue in 2017.
“Debates on last year’s import decisions have been added to the discussion over the impact of agriculture and food products’ price fluctuations on the inflation. In line with the decisions of the Food Committee, imports were facilitated through the reduction or cancelling of customs duties in order to avoid price increases in agricultural production deficit products.
With the decisions of the Council of Ministers on various dates, customs duties on imports of live animals, red meat, cereals, legumes and animal feeds have been reduced or eliminated. Soil Crops Office (TMO) has been authorized for importing cereals without tariffs, likewise Meat and Milk Institution (ESK) has been authorized for imports of live animal and red meat without tariffs.
According to the Ministry of Economy, 4.9 million tons of food products subject to reduction in customs tax were imported in January-September period, amounting 1.18 billion dollars. 80 percent of the volume and the 69 percent of the value of the imports were within inward processing regime. Value of the 963 thousand tons of imported goods intended for domestic market was 368.7 million dollars.
Imports in agriculture and food products should be considered as a short term solution for stability at prices. But in the long term, import-based policies have negative consequences for our farmers' agricultural production and the food industry, which uses these products as raw materials. We wish to increase the production of products with supply deficit and to end imports," he added.
"Tax increases will have negative effects on sector and consumers"
TGDF Chairman Şemsi Kopuz reminded that ÖTV was introduced with the Bundle-Law issued in December 5 and emphasized that a 10 percent excise tax on soda, fruit soda, lemonade, nectar, non-alcoholic beers, energy drinks, ice tea and fruit drinks came into effect starting from January 1, 2018.
Kopuz said “New tax applications or increase of taxes on products like food which are indispensable for our lives, concerns the sector as well as the consumers because these are reflected on prices directly. These also contradict with the steps taken in fight against food inflation, which is said to be the main reason of inflation in general,” Kopuz said.
"The Sugar Authority and TAPDK had become dysfunctional"
Kopuz stated that, another regulation which is closely related to the food sector is the shutting down of Sugar Authority and Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK) with the Decree No. 696 dated 24 December within the scope of the State of Emergency (OHAL), and reminded that their responsibilities were handed over to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
Şemsi Kopuz added that sugar, tobacco and alcohol-related institutions have become dysfunctional and described their closure and handing over to an institution which has expertise on food and agriculture, namely the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, as “the right decision”.
Kopuz continued as follows: "Continuity in the State is essential. The responsibilities of the Sugar Authority, which include fixing quotas under the Sugar Law, and TAPDK, which cover the fight against counterfeit and illegal products in tobacco and alcohol market, cannot be neglected. For this reason, our expectation is that the Ministry should establish the relevant department and make it operable in shortest time."
TGDF's activities in 2017
Kopuz said that TGDF is the largest NGOs of the sector, with its 27 member associations which gather more than 2,000 companies operating in food sector, and emphasized that the Federation worked together with the government in many preparatory processes regarding sectoral regulation.
Kopuz said that the Federation is continually working to increase the sector’s share in world market in terms of production, employment and exports, and added that one of the foremost items in TGDF agenda is the climate change which is affecting Turkish food and agriculture production like the rest of the world.
“In this context, we presented the Turkish Climate Change and Agricultural Sustainability Report to the sector and the public, which was prepared by Prof. Dr. Mikdat Kadıoğlu and his team from ITU Department of Meteorology Engineering. We believe that the report will provide guidance to steps that will be taken by our member companies and government,” Kopuz said.
Kopuz also pointed the Food Defense Workshop that they organized in December 2017. “Food Defense, which has become a precondition in exporting to USA in particular, is of great importance in terms of export. With the workshop we organized, we have informed our sector companies about this fundamental issue, that will enable us to protect our presence in the US market and other export markets, and increase our market share,” he added.
TGDF Chairman Şemsi Kopuz, expressed his desire for 2018 to be “a year that they will be focusing on production, export and quality improvement; instead of discussing the food topics regarding to price surges or taxes.”
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