In line with the World Trade Organization's ("WTO") announcement, published on its website on 3 May 2017, the Turkish Ministry of Economy ("Ministry") has initiated a safeguard investigation on toothbrush imports on 22 April 2017, and notified the WTO of its investigation, in accordance with Article 12.1(a) of the Agreement on Safeguards.
In Turkey, the Communiqué No. 2017/2 ("Communiqué") announcing the initiation ofthe investigation was published in the Official Gazette on 22 April 2017.
- The product subject to the investigation
The product subject to the investigation is "toothbrushes, including dentures," which is currently classified in the Turkish Customs Tariff Schedule under 9603.21.00.00.00 customs tariff code.
- The reasons for the initiation of the investigation
As explained in the Ministry's notification to the WTO, the investigation was initiated upon an evaluation and assessment of a safeguard petition from the domestic toothbrush industry, and on the basis of the evidence and information contained therein.
Upon evaluation of the currently available information at hand, the Ministry determined that there had been an increase in imports of toothbrushes, both in absolute terms and relative to domestic production.
Furthermore, the Ministry stated in its notification that, "The information currently available shows a trend of decreasing profitability and a declining market share for the domestic industry, while inventories are increasing at the same time. Furthermore, even though consumption is growing, production and sales of domestic products have barely increased."
- Who are the interested parties?
As per Article 5 of the Communiqué, those parties who have completed and provided the application form attached to the Communiqué ("Application Form for the Interested Party") to the Ministry within 20 days after the publication date of the Communiqué (i.e., 22 April 2017), are accepted and acknowledged as interested parties in the investigation.
The Ministry has provided a Username and Password to those who have sent in the application form, in order for them to be able to access the "Online Questionnaire for the Interested Party." Interested parties were required to fill out the online questionnaire within the 30-day period following the initiation of the investigation. All correspondences with the Ministry must be made in Turkish.
Lastly, interested parties have the right to request a hearing before the investigating authority, by way of including this request in their application form.
- Failure to cooperate
As per Article 9 of the Communiqué, in cases in which an interested party does not provide the necessary information within the prescribed time limits or impedes the investigation, the investigation may be concluded and its ruling finalized on the basis of the available facts. If an interested party supplies false or misleading information to the investigating authority, such information will not be taken into account in the investigation.
- What is a safeguard investigation?
Safeguard and surveillance investigations are one of the trade protection instruments designed to guard against injuries to domestic industry. Safeguard and surveillance investigations are conducted in line with the principles set forth under the Regulation on Surveillance Applications in Imports and the Regulation on Safeguard Measures in Imports.
A safeguard investigation aims to determine whether increased imports of a particular product cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to a domestic industry.
As specified on the WTO's website: "A WTO member may take a safeguard action (i.e., restrict imports of a product temporarily) only if the increased imports of the product are found to be causing, or threatening to cause, serious injury."
 Article 12.1(a) of the Agreement on Safeguards specifies that, "A Member shall immediately notify the Committee on Safeguards upon: (a) initiating an investigatory process relating to serious injury or threat thereof and the reasons for it, (...)"
 A copy can be accessed at https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/FE_Search/FE_S_S009-
 Trade protection instruments consist of antidumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard and surveillance investigations.
 See at https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/newsl7_e/safe_tur_03mayl7_e.htm
This article was first published in Legal Insights Quarterly by ELIG, Attorneys-at-Law in September 2017. A link to the full Legal Insight Quarterly may be found here
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