Turkey’s popularity on the rise in Islamic finance

Turkey’s popularity on the rise in world finance

President of the Center for Corporate Governance and Sustainability Güler Manisalı Darman emphasized in an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman that the world finance sector recognizes the importance of Turkey as an investment destination, also saying that promotional meetings to be hosted at their center and at the International Quality and Productivity Center in Dubai will provide opportunities to attract global capital to Turkey.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has announced that Turkey would seek to benefit from the meeting through significant participation. Noting that Turkey was cited as the target investment country at the Islamic finance summit held in Switzerland, Darman said: “Recently, large sums of capital have accumulated in petrol-dollar countries. Dubai and Qatar have become notable finance centers. State investment funds (sukuk) have reached substantial levels in these countries. The funds, which promise interest-free profits, have attracted interest and attention on Western stock exchanges. I participated in the Islamic finance summit sponsored by The Economist in September. At the summit, almost all speakers stressed the importance of Turkey as the most important destination market for Islamic funds.”

Pointing out that Turkey attracts attention with its rising economy and predominantly Muslim population, Darman further said: “The Islamic finance leaders’ summit to be held in Istanbul and the promotional meeting to be convened in Dubai will offer great opportunities for Turkey to attract large sums of funds.”

Noting that the Islamic Funds were also exported by non-Muslim countries, Darman also said: “With its stable economy and large Muslim population, Turkey has a great chance to attract Islamic finance. Many non-Muslim fund directors also agree. Not only Islamic countries, but also Japan exports Islamic funds. Great Britain introduced substantial changes to its finance legislation to allow these sorts of transactions. Because the leading players of the sector referred to Turkey’s importance, the International Quality and Productivity Center picked Turkey for its May 2008 summit. A number of regulators, fund directors and asset managers are expected to [attend] the summit.”

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Yusuf Ziya İrbeç, the AK Party deputy chairman for economic affairs, said they expected substantial results from the Dubai meeting and the Istanbul summit.

Noting that the administration would inform the world’s finance circles prior to the summit in Istanbul and the promotional in Dubai, İrbeç said: “Saudi Arabia’s state investment funds — sovereign funds — have reached to 1.8 trillion euros. The funds are appealing to the entire world. An Islamic finance leaders’ summit was held in September to discuss how these funds will be assessed. The world’s finance circles seek to understand this development because the figure is very big and constantly growing.”

Recalling that data from renowned international rating company Moody’s also confirms that the volume of the Islamic finance market is attracting greater attention, İrbeç said: “Sukuk, used to finance real estate investments, also draws attention. According to Moody’s data, the volume of the sukuk market has reached $50 billion. It grows so rapidly that estimates indicate it will reach $150 billion by 2010. In consideration of its growing salience, Great Britain included sukuk among ‘valid instruments’ under its finance legislation. Given these developments, it becomes evident that the Islamic finance leaders’ summit is a very important event.”

Stock exchange market makes purchases

Recalling that the growing Islamic funds draw greater attention in the West, where they are purchased in large sums, İrbeç said: “The Dubai Stock Exchange, acting together with the American NASDAQ, purchased 47.6 percent of the Swedish OMX Stock Exchange. Furthermore, it also purchased 30 percent of the NASDAQ at the London Stock Exchange. The Qatar Investment Authority purchased 20 percent of the London Stock Exchange and ten percent of the OMX shares. Drawing the attention of these growing funds to Turkey will be our primary focus in the promotional meeting in Dubai.”

İrbeç emphasized that acting proactively enables Turkey to manage the developments predicted beforehand.

Noting that the volume of the Islamic funds is approaching to 2 trillion euros, İrbeç further said: “Stability and growth in the Turkish economy attracts attention in the world. In addition, Turkey is also becoming stronger in the economy of the region. The Gulf countries are being used in the financing of sovereign funds that are currently amounting to nearly 2 trillion euros in the world. I think the right action to facilitate transformation of the capital from this region into investment is to maintain direct contact. For this reason, the Dubai meeting will make extensive contributions to the long term relations between Turkey and the countries in the region.”

Saying that the organizers of the meeting the London-based IQPC and Chicago-based Nur Adviser are not Islamic corporations, İrbeç said: “Capital is not labeled based on religious specifications. Capital has gone global. This capital is no longer alien in any part of the world.”

İrbeç also said: “We will meet all players and institutions relevant to all fields of economy. All issues will be discussed at the Istanbul meeting, including measures to increase investments in the region, how Turkey can host the coming funds and how to ensure the greatest contribution of these funds to Turkish economy.”

Large participation

The delegation that will promote the Islamic finance leaders’ summit to be held jointly by the IQPC and the Center for Corporate Governance and Sustainability will include İrgeç, Istanbul Stock Exchange (İMKB) President Hüseyin Erkan, Capital Markets Board (SPK) Deputy Chairman Ender Çolak and other executives from the Banking Regulation and Supervision Authority (BDDK).

Noting that Prime Minister Erdoğan is expected to deliver the opening speech at the May 2008 Summit, İrbeç said: “The summit where Finance Minister Kemal Unakıtan gave the opening speech held by the Institute of International Finance in Istanbul was attended by a number of eminent players in the finance sector, including the Dubai International Financial Center, Dubai Bank, Oasis Group, Dow Jones Islamic Sustainability Index, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Unicom Investment Bank, HSBC, National Commercial Bank, Lioyds, ABC International Bank and the Petroluem Institute. We hope that the 2008 summit will attract even greater participation.”

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