Economic Implications for Turkey of a Customs Union with the European Union
56 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: May 1996
Turkey stands to gain from 1 to 1.5 percent of GDP annually from the customs union arrangement with the European Union. It also stands to lose about 1.4 percent of GDP from lost tariff revenues. Applying the value-added tax (VAT) uniformly (instead of just raising it) would allow VAT rates to fall while compensating for the revenue loss from reduced tariffs and increasing the welfare gain from the customs union. Turkey and the European Union (EU) have agreed to implement a customs union. This means Turkey will eliminate its tariffs and levies on imports of manufactured products from the European Union. Turkey will also apply the EU's common external tariff on imports from third countries. Turkey will be obligated by 2001 to provide preferential access to its markets to all countries to which the EU grants such access.
Since Turkey is both eliminating tariffs on EU imports and reducing tariffs on imports from third countries, it will become a rather open economy in nonagricultural sectors, with tariffs below 2 percent (zero for imports from the EU and slightly over an average 3 percent for third countries). And since preferential access agreements with third countries will typically be reciprocal, Turkish exporters can expect improved access to those markets.
According to Harrison, Rutherford, and Tarr, Turkey's biggest gains from the customs union arrangement will come from this improved access to third country markets. Using a comparative static computable general equilibrium model of Turkey, they estimate that Turkey stands to gain between 1 and 1.5 percent of GDP annually from the customs union arrangement with the EU, depending on what complementary policies it adopts. They also estimate that lost tariff revenues will amount to 1.4 percent of GDP. For Turkey to avoid worsening its fiscal deficit, it must find ways to reduce expenditures or increase revenues. Its best choice is to reduce expenditures through accelerating privatization of state-owned enterprises which will generate a number of macroeconomic and efficiency benefits in addition to the fiscal benefits.
If a value-added tax (VAT) is used as a replacement tax, they estimate that VAT rates must increase 16.2 percent in each sector - for example, from 10 percent to 11.6 percent - to compensate for the revenue losses from implementing the full customs union. But uniform application of the VAT would allow the VAT rates to fall while still compensating for the loss from reduced tariffs and would increase the welfare gain from the customs union.
This paper - a product of the International Trade Division, International Economics Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to analyze the impact of regional trading arrangements. The study was funded, in part, by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project The Impact of EC92 and Trade Integration on Selected Mediterranean Countries (RPO 675-64).
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