Delivering the opening remarks at the forum, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan observed in reference to the present status of the developed and developing countries that the countries where development was in progress had far higher growth rates than the developed countries. Stressing that the developing countries afforded true opportunities for businesses, Babacan said, "We aim to make the Istanbul Financial Center one of the world's top ten financial centers in ten years."
In the first panel on the 'Istanbul: Regional Hub, Global Actor' Forum where Turkey's comparatively superior aspects were addressed, the speakers were the Akbank Chair Suzan Sabanci Dinçer, Fara Group Chairman Allen Collinsworth, Dow Chemical Government Markets Leader Dan Beattie, Citigroup Director and Senior Vice President for International Government Affairs Charles Johnston, and EastWest Institute Professorial Fellow Greg Austin.
Akbank Chair Suzan Sabanci Dinçer remarked, "The Capital Markets Board, Borsa Istanbul, and banks are engaged in various projects for the financial center. Many laws were made governing the diversification of financial products. The Istanbul Financial Center project has a realistic road map. We've kicked off the process. What we need now is time."
Dow Chemical Government Markets Leader Dan Beattie commented, "The key factor that draws us to Turkey is its being one of the most important growth markets, its powerful production base, and its proximity to major markets."
Fara Group Chairman Allen Collinsworth emphasized that Turkey would become a financial center covering three continents. Greg Austin, of the EastWest Institute, said Turkey is looking more politically stable, which is a critical pre-condition to luring foreign investment.
“Istanbul has incredible potential”
The speakers in the second panel entitled "Istanbul as a Financial Center" on the forum "Istanbul: Regional Hub, Global Actor" staged in Washington DC were Borsa Istanbul Chairman and CEO Dr. M. Ibrahim Turhan, Nasdaq OMX Vice Chairman Meyer Sandy Frucher, World Bank Manager for Financial Systems Global Practice Abayomi Alawode, IFSB Secretary General Jaseem Ahmed, and IIFM CEO Ijlal Ahmed Alvi.
Dr. Turhan: "We'll be doing more work on competitiveness"
Underlining the goal of seeing Turkey among the world's ten largest economies in ten years, Borsa Istanbul Chair and CEO Dr. M. Ibrahim Turhan pointed out that a formula taking capacity, capital, connectivity, and competitiveness into consideration was needed in order to become a financial center as in this goal. Turhan said, "We already have capacity and connectivity; and the steps we're taking for competitiveness are going to get faster and faster."
Noting that the main problem in countries such as Turkey was to push savings higher and that Turkey did have the necessary tools for this purpose, Turhan said, "Interest-free finance is managed very well. More instruments must be generated if savings are to be increased. Product diversity will grow as the infrastructure of the market takes shape."
Frucher: "Borsa Istanbul covered ten years' worth of ground in one year"
Nasdaq OMX Vice Chairman Meyer 'Sandy' Frucher affirmed that they were not going to be mere technology providers at Borsa Istanbul. "Infrastructures with global links must be prepared in order to create a setting for trade. The regulatory infrastructure in Istanbul is very strong and the firms coming in for trade bring the capital," he said.
Predicting that Istanbul could enjoy a key position in Central Europe and Central Asia as regards potential, Frucher said capital from different regions converged in the city.
Drawing attention to the fast-paced development Borsa Istanbul displayed, Frucher said, "Borsa Istanbul arrived at its current standing in only one year while others took ten."
Alawode: "It's a long journey to being a financial center"
World Bank Manager for Financial Systems Global Practice Abayomi Alawode commented that becoming a financial center was a marathon, a long journey. Alawode underscored the fact that the Istanbul Financial Center project was aware of the requirement to focus on the region first of all.
IFSB Secretary General Jaseem Ahmed informed that Turkey had created a very important potential with Islamic finance which could be put to use to supplement the government budget and generate resources for paying for infrastructure work.
IIFM CEO Ijlal Ahmed Alvi pointed out that the management of legal issues was important in Islamic finance, adding that the issue of product development had to be addressed.
World Bank Global Islamic Finance Development Center to open soon
A press conference was held on the sidelines of the "Istanbul: Regional Hub, Global Actor" forum in Washington DC on the occasion of the opening of the World Bank Global Islamic Finance Development Center in Istanbul.
Speaking at the press conference, the Undersecretary of the Turkish Treasury Ibrahim Çanakçi noted that the Global Islamic Finance Development Center was going to contribute to the global development of Islamic finance. Çanakçi said his organization attached importance to interest-free banking and the development of new investment instruments.
World Bank Financial Systems and Global Practices Director,Tunç Uyanik informed that the Global Islamic Finance Development Center was going to be opened in Istanbul at the end of this month.
Borsa Istanbul Chairman and CEO Dr. M. Ibrahim Turhan announced that Borsa Istanbul had a project in the works with the Bogaziçi University for setting up a finance technopark.
"Istanbul: Regional Hub, Global Actor" forums to continue
The series of forums entitled "Istanbul: Regional Hub, Global Actor" conceived as a part of the vision to make Istanbul a regional and international financial center and hosted by Borsa Istanbul in cooperation with the Istanbul Financial Center Initiative will continue to be staged in various key locations across the world.
Currently planned locations for the "Istanbul: Regional Hub, Global Actor" forums are the UK capital London, Switzerland's Davos during the World Economic Forum meetings, Singapore, and Qatar's capital Doha.