Two-minute recap of recent developments in Turkish Competition Law – June 2021
In June 2021, the Turkish Competition Board (the “Board”) approved 23 merger control filings. The Board also continues its efforts to determine the effects on competition of digital market platforms and announced that it will hold an e-marketplace workshop in July, alongside its efforts to address competition law concerns in various markets, alongside its on-going investigations.
A new investigation for the FMCG sector on Covid-19 price hikes
In June the Board launched an investigation against 13 undertakings in the FMCG sector in relation to price increases. On 7 May 2021, the Board announced that it had launched investigations against 29 undertakings regarding excessive price increases implemented after the Covid-19 outbreak.
During its prior investigation of 29 undertakings due to allegations on price gouging, the Board acquired sufficient information to raise strong doubts concerning various manufacturers/suppliers that were not party to the initial investigation.
The Board states the main competition concerns in its new investigation as follows:
- mediating the indirect exchange of competitively sensitive information such as future prices, price transition dates, seasonal activities and campaigns among the leading retail supermarket chains in the downstream market;
- coordinating and ensuring that the prices and/or price transitions of the relevant supermarket chains are ensured; and/or
- acting in a manner to determine if the resale prices of these retailers had arisen.
Consequently, the Board conducted a preliminary investigation and decided to initiate a full-fledged investigation against 13 undertakings operating as manufacturers/suppliers in the FMCG sector for price gouging.
Another announcement on e-marketplaces
As is known, the Board continues to scrutinise e-marketplaces—which have become the main actors of e-commerce in Turkey—in order to protect the long-term benefits created by e-marketplaces. The Board also prepared a Preliminary Report within the scope of the “E-Marketplace Platforms Sector Inquiry” in order to identify possible competition problems in the sector and to determine effective policy tools to combat them. Please also find our article on the Preliminary Report here.
On 22 June, the Board announced an e-marketplace workshop will be held in Ankara on 6 July 2021. It is anticipated that this workshop will have a significant impact on future regulations on e-commerce in Turkey.
Chemical producers penalised for anti-competitive behaviour
The Board previously initiated an investigation against seven undertakings operating in the field of chemical products used for the chemical treatment and disinfection of water treatment plants based on allegations that:
- the production and supply of treatment chemicals in Turkey is carried out by a limited number of companies;
- the use of these chemicals in water treatment processes is obligatory and the infrastructures of treatment plants are not suitable for the use of alternative chemicals; and
- companies that are aware of this situation determine the market prices of chemicals and thus affect competition.
As a result of its investigation the Board unanimously decided to impose an administrative monetary fine of EUR 1.1 million on HİCRİ ERCİLİ and an administrative monetary fine of EUR 926 thousand on AKKIM.
As understood from its reasoned decisions, the Board determined that the collusion of the Ankara Municipality in a 2018 tender constitutes a violation of Turkish Competition Law. The Board also states in its decision that as the violation is the subject of collusion in a tender, the actions have been evaluated in the category of “cartels”. In this respect, the Board considered the nature of the violation as “cartels” during the calculation of the fines imposed.