E N F O R C E M E N T   AND   C O M P L I A N C E

ITA Ensures Streamlined Import Licensing Procedures for Distilled Spirits in Turkey

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) helped the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) overcome an import licensing barrier that harmed association members’ operations in Turkey’s distilled spirits market.

Why it Matters

If the United States had not acted to ensure that Turkey’s import licensing requirements for distilled spirits were streamlined and applied in a transparent manner, U.S. distilled spirits producers would continue to face substantial delays in getting their goods into the Turkish market.

Several bottles of distilled spirits.
Courtesy of Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

The Problem

In 2006, the distilled spirits industry approached ITA with concern about Turkey’s import licensing regime for distilled spirits. Under this regime, all imports of distilled spirits were required to be accompanied by two import licenses, one from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and another from the Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Alcoholic Beverages Market Regulation Board (TAB). The requirements for obtaining these licenses were not published and licensing procedures were not administered in a transparent or predictable manner. As a result, there were wide variations in the certification and procedural requirements that were applied to individual companies. Importers of U.S. distilled spirits reported substantial delays, approximately 3 months, in securing the required licenses. Turkey’s import licensing procedures were not in line with their commitments set forth in the WTO Import Licensing Agreement.

The Solution

Leveraging a number of bilateral forums and the WTO Import Licensing Committee, ITA brought to a forefront U.S. industry’s concerns about Turkey’s non-transparent and duplicative import licensing requirements for distilled spirits. This issue was raised by ITA officials in various meetings of the U.S.-Turkey Economic Partnership Commission (EPC) and of the U.S.-Turkey Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). As a result, Turkey simplified and streamlined its documentation requirements for such products, removing this market access barrier for all U.S. spirits exporters to Turkey.