Turkish Competition Authority ("TCA") has published its 2019 Annual Report ("Report") where it presents an overview of its activities in the past year. Although TCA's annual reports are accustomed in the sector by now, this year's report is of significant importance since 2019 was a rather turbulent year in terms of competition law enforcement and practice in Turkey. Some key notes from the report and our assessments are as follows:
Foreword by the TCA's President
According to the report, 2019 has been a fruitful year for the TCA in terms of international cooperation as with the previous years. In his preliminary remarks, President of the TCA, Birol Küle, emphasized the increasing role of the TCA in terms of developing new international alliances and contributing to the efforts taken towards the cooperation among other competition authorities. As a prime indicator of these efforts, President Küle has mentioned the Istanbul Competition Forum which was held in 25-26 November 2019 in cooperation with UNCTAD. Istanbul Competition Forum has set the stage for conveying of ideas, which are mainly focused on digitalization, international cooperation and cartel enforcement, between the representatives of competition authorities and scholars from over 25 countries.
Besides the international efforts, President Küle also highlights the importance of competition law enforcement and reports the contribution TCA has made to the consumer welfare. President Küle states that the approximated contribution to consumer welfare annually is reported to be 3.28 billion TRY (approx. 538.1 million USD1). To that end, President Küle has also highlighted that 3.28 billion TRY is equal to 51 times of the annual budget of the TCA.
In Numbers: Performance of the TCA in 2019
In comparison to the 2018, TCA has experienced a slowdown in 2019 in terms of the number of cases. TCA decided on 208 cases with merger and acquisition ("M&A") cases being in the lead by constituting 66% of the cases. The statistics show that approximately 90% of the submitted M&A notifications have been granted permission by the TCA. Leading sectors in M&A filings were (i) chemicals, (ii) energy and (iii) food and agriculture. The Report explicitly states that final decisions on M&A transactions were made within an average of 15 days following its notification.
Shedding some light on the investigations, firms were fined around 237 million Turkish Liras due to the 10 infringements detected in the course of 15 investigations during 2019. Last year, together with finalized ones, TCA has launched 29 investigations. Last year, TCA has concluded investigations into the sectors of food, pharmaceuticals, IT, transportation, and petroleum and petrochemistry. Drawing a conclusion from that, TCA reminds sectors that are touching the everyday lives of customers are in the spotlight.
Overall, TCA has decided on 312 cases among which 208 of them are M&A, 69 of infringement of competition law and 35 of negative clearance or exemption applications. It is also important to note that, number of investigations concluded in 2019 was decreased by 12% in comparison to the 2018.
Expected amendments to the legislation
TCA included the legislative and regulatory amendments to its Strategic Plan last year. Although we did not see the fruits of these efforts, amendments are being discussed for the Act No. 4054 on the Protection of Competition ("Competition Act"), and the Communiqué No. 2010/3 on Right of Access to the File and Protection of Commercial Secrets. The potential amendments to the Competition Act are expected to further harmonize Turkey's legislation with European practice.
1. As of March 6, 2020, 1 USD = 6.09 TRY
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