On 2nd April 2019 the European Commission (EC) submitted a formal request to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for consultations with Turkey concerning the compatibility of their new pharmaceutical measures with WTO rules.
Of particular concern is Turkey’s requirement that specific pharmaceuticals must be produced within Turkey, and their technology and patent rights transferred to Turkey, failing which they are likely to be barred from importation or excluded from reimbursement opportunities. There will also be a prohibition upon the importation of localised products.
The EC estimates that these measures could affect EU drug exports to the value of around €460 million, and could ultimately affect up to €2.5 billion worth of trade with Turkey. They argue that:
‘These measures violate Turkey’s WTO obligations to treat foreign companies on equal footing with domestic ones, and to protect intellectual property of foreign companies, such as patents and business information, on its territory.’
The European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, has commented that:
“Turkey is discriminating against EU pharmaceuticals producers by forcing them to move production there. This is a clear violation of WTO rules and puts many EU jobs at risk.”
The EC has 60 days to complete the consultation after which, if no satisfactory outcome is reached, they may apply to the WTO to set up a dispute resolution panel to rule on the claim.