Turkish MPs pass foreign investment law

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s Parliament yesterday passed a landmark foreign investment law, a key pledge to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was welcomed by observers as a move away from decades of protectionism. The framework legislation is the first of some 20 laws designed to lift obstructions to foreign investment. A series of headline cases involving foreign investors has not helped the country establish a reputation as a safe and profitable destination for foreign capital. Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), which has invested more than $1 billion in Turkey, recently warned it could withdraw due to a protracted dispute over mobile telephone roaming rights with rival Turkcell and the telecoms regulator. The law is among several IMF pledges, delays to which have threatened to put back a mid-June meeting of the IMF executive board, due to consider the latest $500 million loan tranche. The law emphasizes the equal rights of foreign investors. It also foresees the abolition of minimum capital requirements for investors, the need for a special permit and lifts restrictions on the purchase of real estate by foreign individuals and firms. Turkey’s president must approve the legislation before it can become law.