Turkish Competition Board released the long-awaited Guidelines on Horizontal Cooperation Agreements (Horizontal Agreements Guidelines) and the Block Exemption Communiqué Concerning Specialization Agreements on 26 June 2013.
The Horizontal Agreement Guidelines were in fact very similar to the EU guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements while former ones are adapted to Turkish anti-trust practice and relevant legislation. Those guidelines have been also demanded by and their absence has been subject to criticisms from the European Commission in the progress reports (2012 here) saying that “…Turkey still needs to align with the acquis on horizontal cooperation agreements…” for a couple of years.
Those guidelines set the basic criteria for evaluation of non-vertical cooperation agreements especially R&D agreements, joint production agreements, joint purchasing agreements, commercialization agreements and -lastly- standardization agreements from the competition law perspective. The guidelines also lay a stress and have a specific part on information exchange among competitors.
It is expected that those guidelines to be welcomed by the undertakings and anti-trust law practitioners since they set the basic principles of appraising whether an agreement or information exchange among competitors breaches the law or not or may be subject to exemption. The guidelines have also quasi-de-minimis thresholds (while there is no any de-minimis regime in Turkish competition law) saying that specific agreements between competitors having less than that market share -like %15 market share for joint purchasing agreements- are not expected to have a negative affect on competition as a result of lack of market power while it is reserved that the restriction of competition by object would breach the law irrespective of an effect exists or not.
On the other hand the Block Exemption Communiqué Concerning Specialization Agreements provide an exemption for the specialization agreements, like unilateral or reciprocal production agreements, among competitors as long as the total market share of the parties is below 25% and some other conditions are met.