Country Report Bangladesh January 1996 Main report

Banking & Finance: The Chittagong Stock Exchange starts operation--

The Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE), the country's second bourse, began operations on October 10. Initially, only 33 stocks were traded (as against 195 securities on the Dhaka Stock Exchange), but by November the number had increased to 50, with a further 40 likely to be listed by the end of this June. Market capitalisation in November reached $198m. Screen- based trading should be introduced in 1996, replacing the traditional market outcry system, with a central depository system and satellite systems planned for 1997 and 1998. Chittagong is the site of the country's biggest export processing zone (EPZ), but because of legal restrictions it is not possible for foreign firms in the EPZ to have their shares traded on the CSE. The chairman of the exchange, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, has expressed the hope that this situation will change soon.

--and Standard Chartered plans to open an offshore banking unit

Standard Chartered Bank announced in November that it would soon be opening an offshore banking unit in the Chittagong EPZ. Standard Chartered already has a similar unit in the Dhaka EPZ. Offshore banking units can accept deposits from outside Bangladesh, borrow from abroad and carry out transactions in specified foreign currencies. Offshore loans are permitted for both foreign-owned and joint-venture firms setting up manufacturing plants in EPZs.

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