The Ministry of Customs and Trade was established by the Decree no. 640 Governing the Organization and Functions of the Ministry of Customs and Trade issued in the Turkish Official Journal of 08 June 2011/27958 , merging certain departments of the (defunct) Undersecretariat of Customs and (defunct) Ministry of Industry and Trade. Depending on the previous growth of customs and trade activities in Turkey, the historical development of the Ministry may be subsumed under two broad categories.
The Turkish Customs Administration has a long history, dating back to the Turkish Principalities in Anatolia and Ottoman Empire, and extending to the present-day Republic of Turkey.
Following the transitional period emanating from the Treaty of Lausanne after the War of National Independence, “Customs Tariff Act” no. 1499 was the first ever customs regulation enforced in the Republican era in 1929. This Tariff Act was reinforced by the entry into force on 02 June 1929, of the “Act on Prohibition and Monitoring of Smuggling” no. 1510.
By virtue of the Act no. 1909, customs services were incorporated into an over-arching Ministry, and the “Ministry of Customs and Monopolies” was created on 30 December 1929. The newly-formed Ministry was also charged with the role and responsibility on counter-smuggling activities. The quasi-military “General Command of Customs Enforcement” was set up in 1931 with counter-smuggling purposes. By the Act of 29 March 1932/1989, the newly formed Ministry of Customs and Monopolies incorporated the State Monopoly enterprises and businesses, which were previously affiliated with the Ministry of Finance.
Incapable of satisfying the evolving economic conditions, the Customs Act of 1918 was repealed in 1949 and the new Customs Act no. 5383 was enacted. Customs Cooperation Council was founded in Brussels in 1950, as a consequence of the simplification of customs legislation, reduction of customs formalities and ensuring legislative harmonization in line with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) concluded in Geneva and enforced in 1948. Turkey was one of the first members of the Council. Turkey also acceded to the newly drafted Nomenclature and Valuation Conventions and left the specific tariff of 1916. Turkey has accordingly launched the value-based taxation.
The quasi-military “General Command of Customs Enforcement” set up in 1931 was abolished in 1956 and was demilitarized and renamed as Directorate of Customs Enforcement. Following the merger with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Customs and Monopolies was reorganized as Ministry of Finance and Customs by the Decree of 13 December 1983/178. The Ministry served until the issue of the Decree of 02 July 1993/ 485 governing the “Organization and Functions of the Ministry of Customs”; and the Customs Administration was organized as an independent Ministry of State, directly affiliated with the Prime Minister’s Office.
By its joint decision of 6 March 1995, the 36th Turkey-EC Association Council has implemented the “Customs Union” as from 1 January 1996. The efforts towards the alignment of Turkish legislation with that of EU have eventually been initiated as from 1 January 1996.
The implementation of Customs Union between Turkey and the EU resulted in the adoption of the Customs Act no. 4458 in a way to enshrine the provisions of the Community Code in the Turkish Legislation in accordance with the relevant Decisions of the Association Council. The new Customs Act was issued in 1999 and new regulations on the entire customs offences were merged in the new Counter-Smuggling Act no. 5607 issued in Official Journal in 2007. This was followed by the incorporation of the Directorate General of Liquidation into the ‘now defunct’ Undersecretariat of Customs under the Act of 5 April 2007/5622 “Amending Certain Acts and Decrees as regards the Affiliation of the Directorate General of Liquidation to the Undersecretariat of Customs”.
Apart from such legislative attempts, in a manner to assure alignment with the evolving amendments in the Community Customs Code, the Customs Act of 4458 was amended by the Act no. 5911 Amending the Customs Act and Certain Acts and Decrees, issued on Official Journal of Turkey on 7 July 2009 with the number 27281. The amended Act renames certain definitions and redefines several customs-related issues as transit regime, customs regimes with economic impacts, incurrence of customs debt, notification of customs duties and penalties, objections and irregularities etc.
Reshaping the Customs Administration in Turkey, the Decree on the Organization and Functions of the Ministry of Customs and Trade was issued in the Official Journal of Turkey dated 8 June 2011 and no. 27958 bis.
Adapting to the administrative practices in the Western world under a far-reaching reformation policy conducted during the reign of Mahmud II in the Ottoman Empire, the government services were reorganized in the form of the newly-created contemporary Ministries. In this respect, commercial functions were incorporated into the “Agricultural Assembly and Trade Commission” founded in 1838. Following the proclamation of the Imperial Edict of Reorganization, Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture was established in Istanbul in 1840. The Ministry was composed of a permanent commission named as “Grand Assembly of Commerce and Agriculture” as well as departments of commerce, accounting, statistics and agriculture. The Ministry served under different names for 82 years until the abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate in 1922. Trade
The commercial services assumed by the “Ministry of Economy” at the first Government of the Grand Turkish National Assembly were further rendered by the “Ministry of Commerce” from 1924 to 1928. Between 1928-1931 these services were subsequently undertaken by the Ministry of Economy representing two major undersecretariats , established as per the “Act on the Merger of the Ministries of Commerce and Agriculture.
The overarching Ministry of Economy was considerably downsized until 1949 by an unbundling and eventual creation of Ministry of Agriculture in 1931; Ministry of Commerce in 1939 and with the establishment of the independent Ministry of Transportation. The Ministry of Economy and Commerce embracing the industry, mining and energy affairs, was established in 1949. The Ministry returned to its previous and initial organizational structure and roles in 1939 with the separation of industrial affairs in 1957. However, the Ministry further reclaimed the industrial functions, and was reorganized as Ministry of Industry and Trade.
By the end of the same year, the Trade leg of the Ministry was disintegrated and consecutively merged with the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations. This was again a return to the functions of the Ministry of Commerce of 1939. The Ministry was further reorganized as the Ministry of Industry and Trade in 1983, established with the recurrent incorporation of Trade and Industry functions. The Ministry served until the recent establishment of the Ministry of Customs and Trade in 2011. Except for certain periods, the notion of “Ministry of Trade” in the context of Turkish Public Administration has survived from 1840 to date.