Turkey to act on e-commerce orders avoiding tax: finance minister

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A teller holds Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Istanbul on August 13, 2018. Turkey's troubled lira tumbled on August 13 to fresh record lows against the euro and dollar, piling pressure on stock markets on fears the country's crisis could spill over into the world economy. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

Turkey will take steps against international digital commerce packages that avoid taxes, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Wednesday, in a move to support local manufacturers, Reuters reported.

Ankara has taken measures in recent months to reinvigorate slowing economic activity, including in the areas of taxation and incentives to help manufacturers after the lira lost some 30 percent of its value against the dollar last year.

Albayrak said that in 2018 Turkey received 26 million articles of mail registered as letters from just one country, suggesting this was not actually correspondence.

“There are different things coming out of these packages which show up as letters. What about taxes?” Albayrak said in a speech to a Tax Council meeting.

“We have to take necessary steps to support our local economy and competitive advantage. … We will react strongly to this issue with digital taxation, taking into account these anomalies and abuses that threaten the world.”

E-commerce, or online trade in goods and services, has become a huge component of the global economy.

In 2017 Turkey’s e-commerce market was worth TL 42.2 billion ($7.97 billion), largely composed of retail and travel transactions, according to a report by Deloitte and Turkey’s Informatics Industry Association (TÜBİSAD).

Turkish authorities charge customs tax of up to 20 percent on orders coming from abroad if the declared value of the packages exceeds 22 euros ($25).

Turkey has major potential for e-commerce with a population of 82 million people and a median age of 32 — younger than any other country in Europe. By 2040 the population is expected to swell to 100 million.

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