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Istanbul at the centre

For more than a decade, it has been a private dream of successive Turkish governments: the vision of Istanbul as a world financial centre comparable in some way to London, Frankfurt or New York. Is it merely a politicians’ pipe dream? Perhaps – but the notion is about to be transformed into an official government goal.

Turkey’s growth defies the pessimists

At the behest of the Turkish Banking Association, consultancy Deloitte has prepared a report outlining strategic steps toward such a lofty goal. Completed in October, the plan is to be submitted to prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It advocates, among things, the appointment of a minister to oversee just such a development initiative and suggests that if work starts immediately, such a vision might be realized by 2012.

Istanbul has competitive advantages in its favour, says Ersin Erzince, president of Is Bank and chairman of the banking association. Its location, the country’s recent stellar economic performance and Istanbul’s growing role as a regional commercial transportation hub astride Europe and Asia all bode well, he says. "It does not have too many rivals in its region. Moreover, it has an experienced financial sector and well-qualified and well-priced employment power."

He also noted that Istanbul has some of the world’s strongest financial equity owners, and the market values of the institutions they have purchased are climbing to international levels. Such a goal will mean strengthening the legal system governing the financial sector and other infrastructure reforms, he says, but none that are unrealistic.

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