Turkey is host to top firms

ISTANBUL – High-level representatives of Europe’s leading multinationals met with local businessmen in Istanbul over the weekend as Turkey seeks to attract much-needed foreign investment to its crisis-hit economy. EU candidate and NATO member Turkey, working to implement a $16-billion IMF pact after a February 2001 crisis sparked its worst economic slump since 1945, attracts much less foreign investment than many rival emerging market economies. Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on Sunday evening was due to host a dinner for the businessmen, members of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. Closed to the media Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper on Sunday published a list of the meeting’s participants which comprised directors of 47 firms including Carlsberg, Nestle, Unilever, TotalFinaElf, Fiat, Vodafone, Philips, Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens, Bayer, Renault, BP and Deutsche Telecom. All the meetings were closed to members of the media, the spokesman said. Turkey has pledged the IMF new measures to eradicate non-tariff barriers and reams of bureaucratic red tape ahead of a planned conference of foreign investors this summer, that will be chaired by World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn. (Reuters) As regards the tax scale, the committee considers that it must be further evened out, with the lowest rate of 5 percent raised to 20 percent. The highest tax rate could be initially reduced to 38 percent with a view to being ultimately brought down to 35 percent, on the condition that the mechanisms of tax inspection improve and tax evasion is curtailed. A reduction is also seen as an incentive for more investment and work and to limit tax evasion.