The Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) will soon launch an offshore securities market that will operate as a tax exempt free zone trading in stocks from Central Asian and other regional stock exchanges, ISE officials say.

‘All the infrastructure is in place and the international exchange will probably start at the beginning of 1996,’ ISE senior vice-chairman Aril Serin said in mid-October. The market is now awaiting approval from the Turkish Markets Board, although this is not a requirement for trading to begin, Serin told delegates at the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington.

The free zone will consist of trading areas next door to the exchange’s new trading floor in the ISE building. Deals will take place through separately demarcated files which will be free of tax.

The offshore operation aims to increase the volume of regional investment business passing through Istanbul. It includes plans to attract stocks from Iran, Pakistan and emerging Central Asian markets which want to tap international capital. Turkish companies will not be traded offshore.