Turkey

1. Introduction

What significance does the Corona crisis have for antitrust law?

Due to the Coronavirus crisis the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) is even more closely monitoring market activities especially in the food sector.

Currently, there is an overcharging of customers for products such as fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, tonic water, cologne etc.

2. Antitrust

Competition rules are sufficient to counter the Coronavirus crisis.

According to the verbal statement of the TCA, no change in the law is currently necessary to prevent the negative effects on the market due to the Coronavirus crisis.

However, on March 23, 2020, the TCA announced that most substantial administrative fine possible would be imposed on the actors (producers, intermediaries, carriers, retail sellers etc.) in the food production and retail sector if such breach the competition law rules.

Going forward, on March 25, 2020, the President of the TCA, Mr. Küle, published a written press release stating that the investigations into the fresh fruit and vegetable market will be finalized in the board meeting on March 26, 2020. Mr. Küle further noted that the rates of the administrative fines are stated clearly under the law; however, the TCA has discretion regarding the penalty rate and can give it at the top rate. The current rates are (i) 2% to 4% of the businesses’ local turnover generated in the year before the TCA’s fining decision for cartel offences, and (ii) 0.5% to 3% of the business’ local turnover generated in the year before the TCA’s fining decision for other offences such as abuse of dominant position by exclusionary practices.

3. Abuse of market power

Abuse of market power is still not permitted, and there are no exemptions from the ban on cartels during the Coronavirus pandemic.

There is no exception in the abuse of dominant position in the market and/or ban on cartels due to the coronavirus pandemic. Going forward, none of the government instructions and suggestions for the sectors do not legitimize any breaches of competition law.

On the other hand, the coronavirus crisis may increase the market shares of the surviving companies in the long-term, so that they may fall within the scope of the related provisions of the Turkish Competition Act as to the prohibition of abuse of the dominant position.

4. Merger control

Merger control: No changes in Turkey so far

The merger controls and routine work schedule of the TCA is still being conducted as usual. However, the review of the merger clearance filings by the TCA may be delayed since the presidential decision dated March 23, 2020, announced that all employees in the public sector would work in shifts and/or will be granted administrative leave. The work distribution and organization will be conducted by the relevant authorities, i.e. the TCA.

Further, as of 6 April 2020, it had been announced by the TCA that as a Covid-19 precaution; all of the applications (such as petitions, merger clearance filings etc.) could be submitted online via "Competition Authority Application Portal".

Authors

Picture of Döne Yalçın
Döne Yalçın
Managing Partner Turkey
Arcan-Kemahli-CMS-TUR
Arcan Kemahlı
Senior Associate