Turkey: New directive sees import duties on solar modules

Turkey’s Ministry of Economics published the new directive, "?thalatta gözetim uygulanmas?na ili?kin tebli?," last week. Under it, solar PV module imports will be charged an import tax, based on weight – specifically, $35/kg – as of December 19. Manufacturers will also have to apply for a supervisory document for each module type from their production sites.

According to Hasan Yigit, renewable energy consultant, it is an anti-dumping regulation. "Ultimately, this policy is aimed at ensuring that a minimum value, based on the weight of the module, is determined for the tax base," he told pv magazine. Usually a module weighs about 20 kg, he said, and costs around $150.

"Through this new policy, the module value is increased to around $700," he said. On this massively increased value, an import tax of 18% will be calculated, and around $126 charged in import taxes per module. Thus, the tax almost corresponds to the value of the goods.

According to Yigit, the directive is intended to act as a control mechanism to prevent the uncontrolled import of low-quality modules into Turkey. Massive criticism has been aimed at the fact the tax is being calculated on the weight of the modules and not on a watt peak basis, however.

The taxes are to be paid in advance. "Although you receive the import tax back from electricity sales, it has to be funded in the meantime, which makes the whole thing uneconomical," commented Yalcin Adiyaman of Halk Enerji, who is highly critical of the directive.

An exemption from the tax should exist. In this instance, the document, "Te?vik Belgesi" must be applied for. However, it is unclear who can take advantage of the exemption. Yazgan points out that it will only be granted for modules manufactured in Turkey. Furthermore, it is almost impossible for foreign manufacturers to obtain the document, which must be renewed every six months, he said.

Adiyaman does not share this view. "In my opinion, the Te?vik Belgesi applies to all domestic and foreign modules," he said, adding, "This is an investment certificate, which is issued for all kinds of investments, not only for solar modules." With this certificate, both solar modules and inverters could be imported without taxes, as before. "Furthermore, if a customs union is created, the directive will be undermined. It must be doubted whether the new directive, without further measures from the Turkish government, will have any effect," he said.

The new rules will come into effect on December 19 and will apply to all imported solar modules. Once introduced, Atalay Yazgan, CE of Axitec Turkey is convinced the Turkish solar PV market will come to a standstill. Adiyaman, however, is more supportive. "Although I am fundamentally opposed to all forms of trade barriers, I understand the possible position of the Turkish Government," he said. "Obviously you don’t want to substitute oil and gas imports with module imports."

Translated and edited from pv magazine Deutschland by Becky Beetz.