Istanbul, which is positioning itself to be a global financial hub, played host to the Capital Markets Congress on November 4-5.
Speaking at the opening session, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his hope that the congress will ensure good results for the Turkish economy and will draw a wider attendance in upcoming years. He would like to see the congress become a truly international platform in which global issues are discussed. Erdoğan pointed out that the congress will spare no effort towards positioning Istanbul as a financial hub on par with international finance centers such as New York, London, and Hong Kong.
During the congress, Erdoğan drew attention to Turkey’s remarkable performance during the global economic crisis, especially when compared to several EU countries still suffering from outstanding debts. “Despite the serious challenges we faced in the last three years, our growth rate was above the world average. We attained a 4 percent growth rate even in 2015 in spite of two elections. Additionally, we have overseen an average annual growth rate of 4.7 percent from the year we took office until now. We decreased the public debt to gross domestic product ratio to 32 percent from 75 percent. Similarly, the interest expenses to GDP rate was reduced below 3 percent from 15 percent. Also we cut the share of interest expenses in the budget to 11 percent from 43 percent,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan advised companies to use financial instruments such as bonds, Sukuk (Islamic bonds), and infrastructure real estate investment partnerships for the sake of Turkey's advancement. He also stressed that making money from investments rather than interest would promote sustainable economic development.
Erdoğan also talked about Turkey’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which will have access to some TRY 110 billion in pension and investment funds, as well as TRY 100 billion in the unemployment insurance fund. He emphasized that these assets could be used for the financing of big investments that require low-cost long-term loans.
Finally, Erdogan called for measures to be taken to lower interest rates in Turkey, which are currently hovering around 15-16 percent. He said the high interest rates are making it difficult for investors to come into the market, therefore their concerns need to be allayed.
The two-day congress, which brought together financial institutions, market professionals, and regulators, aimed to contribute to the development of the capital markets and intermediation activities, as well as to enhance professional know-how in the sector.