Turkey: Investment Incentives

Last Updated: 17 November 1997
Procedures and principles relating to incentives and subsidies are governed by a number of laws. The Council of Ministers has the authority to pass decrees in conjunction with incentives and subsidies.

Each year the Council of Ministers determines the conditions for an investment to benefit from incentives and subsidies, as well as the type and nature of the subsidies and benefits to be provided to the investor.

The Undersecretariat of the Treasury has the authority to apply the decrees of the Council of Ministers. Each year, the Undersecretariat of the Treasury issues a communique in which the principles and procedures regarding the enforcement of the Council of Ministers Decree are set out, and explanations on application are provided.

The General Directorate of Incentives and Implementation of the Undersecretariat of the Treasury is in charge of handling applications for domestic investments. The General Directorate of Foreign Investment acts as the authority in granting permission and incentives to investments made by companies in which there is a foreign capital interest.

The explanations presented below concerning investment incentives summarize the rules applicable to investments which will be made during 1995. These rules have been included in Decree 94/6411 concerning Government Subsidies, issued in the Official Gazette on 13 January 1995. However, since the promulgation of the communique of the undersecretariat was pending as this booklet was going to press, print, no reference has been made in connection with its provisions.

Decree 94/6411 evidences a rather different approach compared to previously issued decrees and communiques relating to incentives and government subsidies. One main reason for this change is to create harmony with the standards and norms currently adopted by the European Community.

The purpose of the decree on government subsidies in investments is to provide support to investments that

  • conform with the development plans and annual programs
  • contain special arrangements that encourage employment and equalize regional imbalances
  • involve foreign currency-generating activities
  • ensure the implementation of advanced and compatible technologies in a manner that would not conflict with international obligations.

The major incentives for the investments that satisfy the above objectives, are as follows :

1. Customs duty exemption and funds exemption
2. Investment allowance
3. VAT support during purchase of machinery and equipment
4. Letters of guarantee for foreign loans and contribution to expenses
5. Procurement of land
6. Shared expenses for setting standards and improve quality
7. Energy support
8. Credits and other supports.

For the purposes of investment incentives, Decree 94/6411 divides Turkey into a number of different regions. These regions are as follows:

a) Developed regions

The provinces of Istanbul and Kocaeli, and the regions within the metropolitan municipality of Ankara, Izmir, Bursa and Adana are identified as developed regions. As a general principle, investments made in a developed region are not allowed to benefit from incentive measures. However investments relating to the extension, modernization, reconstruction (renewal), quality enhancement and bottleneck elimination of currently active facilities in such regions, may be evaluated as investments made in sectors of special priority (see (c) below). Again in such regions investments carried out in organized industrial zones may be subsidised as investments made in normal regions.

b) Industrial belts

These are the regions where the development of industry is particularly encouraged. Organized industrial zones established and in operation in normal regions (starting as of 1995 until 2000); organized industrial zones established in normal regions but not currently operating, and provinces with no organized industrial zones (as of 1995 for a period of 3 years), are identified as "industrial belts". The regions included within industrial belts, are determined as per Decree 94/44 of the Supreme Planning Committee.

c) Investments carried out in sectors of special priority

The investments made in industrial belts as well as investments in the form of expansion, modernization, renewal, quality-enhancement and bottleneck elimination of currently active facilities in a developed region, are defined as investments carried out in sectors of special priority.

The grant of incentive measures and government subsidies is dependent on the investment sector, the amount involved in the investment, and the place of investment. Although investors are generally required to obtain an incentive certificate in order to be allowed to benefit from incentive measures, in certain types of investments this is not the case. The incentives and subsidies applicable to investments are presented below:

1. Incentives and subsidies provided without an incentive certificate

Investments that are allowed to benefit from incentives and government subsidies without having to receive an incentive certificate are as follows :

1) Service investments relating to small and medium-sized entities

Turkey has determined that small and medium-sized entities (SMSE) provide significant contributions to the economy. The Directorate of the Administration of Small and Medium-Sized Industry Development (DASMID) exerts a special effort to identify and meet the needs of small and medium -sized entities.

Under Decree 94/641 1, businesses that supply technical consulting, quality control, calibration, and product development services required by small and medium sized entities will be allowed to benefit from such incentives. Thus these incentives will be provided not to the small and medium sized entities themselves, but rather to the companies that undertake the supply of these services to them.

Provided that investors submit to the Undersecretariat of the Treasury a copy of an agreement signed with DASMID confirming that they will provide the above -mentioned services for a period of 5 years as of the completion of the investment, they will be allowed the incentives without having to obtain an incentives certificate. However, if the proposed investment exceeds the amount of total fixed investment by TL 10 billion (TL 6 billion in regions of high-priority), an investment certificate becomes a requirement.

For investments supported by incentives certificates, the incentives specified in the certificate applicable. In the case of investments that do not require an incentives certificate, loans will be financed by the Fund for the Encouragement of Investments and Foreign Currency Generating Services.

For investments made in high-priority regions, the loan to be provided by that fund is limited to 25% of the total investment on which the interest rate is 40%. For investments within an industrial belt, loans are limited to 15% of the total investment while the interest rate is 50% .

These loans are repaid in eight equal installments over a period of four years with the first installment being paid at the end of the first year.

2) Machinery and equipment purchases

Investments made by small and medium-sized entities may benefit from funds-sourced loans without an incentives certificate, provided they are approved by the undersecretariat.

These funds-sourced loans are limited to 25% of the total fixed investment in regions of high-priority development, and 15% of investments made within industrial belt. No loans are provided for machinery and equipment investments by small and medium-sized entities established in developed regions. Again, the interest rates are 40% or 50% depending on the region in which the investment is made. The first repayment of principal and interest is made at the end of the sixth month.

Financial leasing

Funds-sourced loans are provided for investments that are financed by leasing provided that the investment itself qualifies for such loans.

3) Relocation support

Where an investment made in a developed region is relocated to a high-priority region prior to completion of the investment and without an interruption to its physical integrity, 50% of the relocation costs (dismantling, transportation, re-assembly) are financed through fund-sourced loans.

4) Compliance with quality standards

All the cost incurred by a supplier in obtaining a Turkish Standards Institute or ISO certificate of quality standardization will be refunded to him from the fund's resources.

5) Special loans

Fund-sourced loans are provided for investments in ro-ro transportation, airway cargo transportation, combined highway and railway and railway transportation, and refrigerated depots in airports.

Information regarding loans is presented in the table below.

                Equity   Rate of    Interest  Maturity 
Investment type  ratio (%) loan      (%p.a.)   (years) First payment

Ro-ro transport   25        50         50         10   2 years later
Airway cargo      25        50         50         10  6 months later
Highway/railway
Combined transp.  50        50         50          4  6 months later
Airport refrig.   40        50         50          4  6 months later

In cases when the Central Bank rediscount rates are below the interest rates of the fund-sourced loans mentioned above, the interest rate may be readjusted.

11. Incentives and subsidies provided to investments with an incentives certificate

As a general rule, investments should have an incentives certificate in order to take advantage of incentives measures and government subsidies. To obtain this certificate, the investor must prepare a feasibility report and financial analysis submit these, along with other documentation to the authorities.

In applications for an incentives certificate, the investor is required to attach a receipt verifying payment of a fee of TL 25 million for investments to be made in high-priority regions and in industrial belts and of TL 50 million for the investments elsewhere. (This fee is paid to the fund.)

For investments to be supported by incentives certificates, the minimum fixed investment amount total should be TL 6 billion in high-priority regions and TL 10 billion in other regions.

To qualify for an investment certificate, the equity financing ratio in the investing company should be 40% in high-priority regions, 50% in normal regions, and 60% in developed regions. In the event that the entire investment is financed through foreign loans or foreign exchange credit, the equity ratio may be reduced as low as 15% .

Incentives certificates are not issued for new investments made in developed regions.

The principal incentives measures available under incentives certificates are as follows.

a) Customs duty and excise exemption

This incentives measure ensures that the capital goods, raw materials, intermediary goods, and operating materials brought to the country are exempted from customs duties and the Mass Housing excise.

For items that are exempt from customs duties and excises, a premium is paid from the fund as prescribed in Decree 94/641 1.

For excises based on the CIF value, the exchange rate for the date of application is used for calculating the customs exemption.

The overall excise rate applicable to the importation of all types of machinery and equipment is 5%. The exceptions to this rate are as follows: passenger vehicles, buses other than double-deckers, TIR trucks without refrigerating units, tractor vehicles that do not comply with Euro I and Euro 11 norms, televisions, VCRS, refrigerators, furniture, trucks, mixers, and transmixers are subject to a rate of 20%; vacuum cleaners, electrical power generators, concrete manufacturing plants, fork lifts, concrete pumps, and double-decker buses are subject to a rate of 10%. In addition, the importing of spare parts for machinery with values not exceeding 5% of the total value of the machinery, may be permitted at an excise rate equal to the rate on the machinery itself. On the other hand, no excises are charged on the importation of machinery and equipment subject a 5% rate, if such machinery and equipment is used in investments in high-priority regions and in sectors of special priority.

To qualify for a customs exemption on raw materials, intermediary goods, and operating items to meet the needs of the entity, it is a requirement that the investment be new and complete. During the period of investment, imports of raw materials, intermediary goods, and operating items corresponding to 20% of the total cost of machinery and equipment, or in quantities that may meet the needs of the entity for a period of 3 months (whichever is smaller) may be allowed to benefit from customs exemptions, by paying a 10% excise.

In the case of investments related to the expansion or renewal (modernization) of car-manufacturing concerns that have a minimum production capacity of 100,000 units a year, a customs exemption is provided when new-model automobiles are to be produced. ("New" in this case referring to models first introduced no more than ten years ago.) The parts and components related to such investments qualify for an unlimited customs duty exemption during the first two years of local production and for an exemption of up to 30% of operating requirements in subsequent years. The imports are nevertheless subject to a fund excise of 18%.

Neither automobiles nor aircraft (including helicopters) may be imported under an incentives certificate except in the case of investments exclusively in the transportation industry.

b) Investment tax allowance

Principles and procedures relating to investment tax allowances are governed by section eight of the Income Tax Code. An investment allowance is a type of incentive that provides exemption from income and corporation taxes.

Of the expenses incurred within the scope of investment incentives certificate, those relating to buildings (exclusively in the tourism sector), and machinery and equipment are entitled to benefit from the investment allowance. The investment allowance is determined on the basis of a specific rate of the expenses in question and is specified in the incentives certificate. This rate is 70% in high-priority regions and 20% in other regions.

Investment expenditures other than on the main project, and expenses incurred during the acquisition of land and building, personnel needs, construction and the accessories and furnishings are not permitted to benefit from investment allowances.

In order to benefit from investment allowances, the investment certificate should be obtained prior to the initiation of the investment. The Ministry of Finance must be notified of all changes in an investment certificate.

Investors who are entitled to benefit from investment allowances are required to pay corporation tax withholding (except for minimum corporation tax as detailed in the section on tax) and income tax withholding until the profits earned reach the amount of investment allowance received.

The amount the investor is entitled to receive as an investment allowance may be carried forward to subsequent years without any time limitation; however, the investor is obliged to make use of the allowance during the first year it is available.

As example, let us assume that the investment expenditures of an investor to invest in a region of high-priority for development in 1995 are as follows :

                                     Breakdown by year
                            Aggregate         1995            1996

Land and building              20              20                -
Machinery & equipment          10               5                5
Imported mach.& equipment      65               -               65
Other investment expenditures   5               -                5

Total                         100              25               75

Assuming that the investment allowance foreseen for this investment is 70% and assuming that the company profit is TL 10 billion in 1995 and TL 90 billion in 1996, the effect of the investment allowance on the tax for the period, will be as follows:

                                         1995   1996     Total

Expenditures to benefit from inv. all.      5     70        75
Investment allowance exemption (at 70%)   3.5     49      52.5
Profits for the period                     10     90       100
Investment allowance exemption           (3.5)   (49)    (52.5)

Taxable profit                            6.5     41      47.5

In the event that the company did not make a profit, or has failed to make sufficient profit, the investment allowance entitlement for the year may be carried to the following years. Investment allowances are not readjusted for inflation. During the calculation of taxable profits, corporations with losses in previous years deduct these losses from their profit then apply the investment allowance subsequently to any remaining balance of taxable profit.

Investment allowances have no impact on depreciation itself. In a sense, they function simply as additional depreciation.

c) Value-added tax support on machinery and equipment purchases

This incentive certificate relates to new machinery and equipment that is included in the domestic global lists attached to the incentives certificate and that is manufactured in Turkey.

Machinery and equipment fulfilling the prescribed conditions (ie is included in the global list, is new, and is manufactured in Turkey) qualifies the investor for a VAT refund of up to 110% of the amount paid.

In fact, this incentive is an extension of the VAT-deferment rule already applicable to imported machinery and equipment. Because such a deferment does not apply to locally manufactured goods, investors were thus being encouraged to favor imports at the expense of local procurement. This incentive was intended to counteract this inequality.

As an example assume that machinery costing TL 1 billion is purchased locally and that it is subject to 15% VAT necessitating a total payment of TL 1.15 billion. By virtue of this incentive, the acquisition cost may be reduced by TL 250 million.

In deliveries of sea-going vessels and yachts are not subject to VAT the Value added tax support incentive is applied to the cost of the vessel or yacht.

In the case of investments supported by incentives certificates that are realized through international bids, where the bid in question is awarded to the domestic firm, the value-added tax support is paid to the local firm that has been awarded the bid on behalf of the investing firm. Similarly, local firms that undertake machinery and equipment deliveries on behalf of foreign corporations doing business in Turkey within the framework of international bilateral agreements are also allowed to benefit from the value-added tax support incentive.

d) Allocations of public-owned land

Public-owned land may be allocated for the use of investments covered by an incentives certificate that are to be undertaken in high-priority regions and industrial belts.

e) Electrical energy support

Up to 25% of the cost of electrical power needed by completely new investments covered by an incentives certificate that are to be undertaken in high-priority may be met by the fund.

f) Contributions to expenses relating to letters of guarantee needed for foreign loans

50% of the expenses incurred by businesses that generate foreign-currency earnings and that manufacture goods in Turkey in obtaining letters of guarantee for foreign-source loans will be financed by the fund. (These loans may be obtained by the investors directly or through public-owned banks.)

g) Government subsidies for R & D investments

Projects undertaken by industrial companies for the development of new products or production methods, improvement of technology, and enhancement of quality and productivity are defined as R & D projects. 50% of the expenses relating to the procurement of tools, equipment, and software for such projects may be financed through loans received from the fund.

h) Government subsidies for investments concerning environmental protection

For current investments developed regions and for current and prospective investments in other regions, the portion of investments within the scope of the Environmental impact evaluation report will be allowed to receive loans corresponding to 50% of the amount of total fixed capital investment.

Loans relating to investments for R&D and environmental protection purposes have a maturity period of 4 years; the interest on such loans is 40% in high-priority regions and 50% in industrial belts. The initial repayment of principal and interest begins at the end of the first year.

i) Other incentives

In addition to the incentives and subsidies already mentioned, Decree 94/6411 also contains other provisions relating to exemptions applicable on medium and long term domestic and foreign loans, and letters of guarantee to be obtained in connection with imports.

There are a few other incentives that are not covered by Decree 94/641 1. Among the more important are an exemption from certain taxes, duties, and charges on investment projects that engage in foreign exchange-earning activities, immunities from building and construction taxes, and the right to take advantage of the "financing fund" (a tax-sheltered investment-financing method) provided for in the Corporation Tax Code.

j) Oversight of investments covered by incentives certificates

While the Treasury undersecretariat has primary responsibility for the oversight of investments taking advantage of tax and other incentives, customs authorities and the Ministry of Finance may also conduct inquiries into matters of concern to them.

Such inspections may be conducted during and after the investment period to determine whether or not the terms of the incentives certificate and the requirements of laws and regulations are being complied with.

Inspecting authorities focus particular attention to the following matters.

a) Capital goods that have been imported with a customs duty exemption may not be transferred, assigned, or sold for a period of five years without the written consent of the Treasury.

b) Capital goods that have been manufactured and procured locally may not be transferred, assigned, or sold for a period of two years without the written consent of the Treasury.

c) When locally-manufactured capital goods are disposed of in any way, the disposal should not result in a loss of more than 50% of installed capacity (even after the initial two-year period has expired).

d) As a rule, used machinery etc cannot be imported under an incentives certificate (exceptions may be made in the case of integrated publishing facilities, aircraft, helicopters, and seagoing vessels). The importation of such goods may however be allowed on an individual project basis but such permission is dependent upon an independent appraisal of the goods performed in the country where the goods, plant, etc are located.

e) In situations where the terms and conditions of the incentives certificate are not complied with or in which the overall integrity of the investment project is impaired, or if any falsification is discovered in any document related to the progress etc of an investment project, the undersecretariat may cancel all or part of the incentives certificate and seek recovery of all or any cash incentives etc that may have been paid.

General evaluation

It is evident that the 1995 incentives decree provides far less support than was available in the years before. 1994 was already witness to a substantial cutback in investment incentives and there was widespread uncertainty among investors as to how rigorously existing incentives would be provided. This trend looks likely to continue for the immediate term since, as things presently stand, the government has very little in the way of resources that it can devote to investment financing. This situation is nowhere more apparent than in the limited resources currently being made available to the fund.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

For further information contact Mustafa Camlica, Tax Manager on Tel: +90 212 232 1210, Fax: +90 212 230 8231, or e-mail mustafa.camlica@arthurandersen.com.

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