The Brazilian government has repealed a tax placed on foreign investors trading equities, in a move which domestic exchange BM&F Bovespa believes is sure to stimulate trading activity in the country.
The IOF tax, which stood at 2% for equities since its launch in October 2009, has now been eliminated. The tax was also removed for debt instruments that have a tenor of four years or longer.
The levy was introduced by the Brazilian government in order to help it control the rapid appreciation of the Brazilian real. It was initially set at 2% for all initial investments made by foreigners in fixed income and derivatives transactions. The tax was increased to 6% for fixed income transactions in October 2010.
“We are not easing our currency policy. If there is any risk of the currency appreciating, we will increase the IOF on derivatives,” Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega is reported to have said at a press conference today.
The announcement by the Brazilian government had an instant positive impact on equities prices in the country, with shares in BM&F Bovespa surging by almost 7% today.
“By reducing the IOF to 0% on foreign investments for equities, the government has sent a clear message about the importance of the capital markets as a way to support local companies,” Sergio Gullo, chief representative for BM&F Bovespa in EMEA, told theTRADEnews.com. “The removal of the tax will encourage more foreign investment to our market.”
The removal of the IOF tax may also help to bring more high-frequency trading (HFT) to Brazil, the increase of which BM&F Bovespa has identified as a key aspect of its growth strategy. Gullo says that the exchange believes HFT will reach 20% of overall equity trading volumes in the next few years.
As part of its plans to attract HFT, BM&F Bovespa has partnered with US exchange operator CME Group to develop Puma, a new US$200 million multi-asst class trading platform. The new platform will be able to process 200 million messages per day and offer an average round-trip latency of 1.1 milliseconds.
“The removal of the tax has very little downside and it appears that the Brazilian government is not concerned about the effect of equity trading on currency appreciation,” said Danielle Tierney, analyst at consultancy Aite Group. “It will be more of a positive for HFT firms than traditional market participants. The exchange should have no trouble in reaching its 20% HFT target.”