Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ed Balls on Islamic finance, Gulf region IFI assets

Ed Balls speaks on Islamic finance in the UAE

"Statement by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ed Balls MP, on his visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi", HM Treasury, November 8, 2006

Ed Balls was speaking in Dubai about increasing the links between the U.K. and the U.A.E. The part of the speech relating to Islamic finance is below.

"One area highlighted by the High Level Group is Islamic Finance. There are currently in the region of £250 billion of funds within the Islamic finance system, forecast to grow at 15% annually. And London is well placed to play a leading role in this market. That is why I announced to the High Level Group meeting last month that visiting Dubai was my first priority following the first meeting of the group.

One area where we can work more closely together is on Islamic Finance. London is increasingly a centre for international Islamic finance. We have the only independent Islamic investment bank operating in Europe – the European Islamic Investment Bank - as well as conventional investment banks such as Deutsche Bank with strong Islamic advisory arms. I am proud that the largest Sukuk issued to date was written out of the London office of Barclays Capital.

At the same time banks in Britain are pioneering Islamic banking - London now has more banks supplying services under Islamic principles than any other Western financial centre, including the Islamic Bank of Britain - the first independent Islamic bank in Europe.

My first task as a Minister was last May to ensure that we passed legislation in the Finance Act to enable borrowing by Islamic business. In 2003 we removed the barriers to murabaha and ijara mortgages, and diminishing musharaka in 2005. This has enabled the expansion of the UK Islamic mortgage market to over half a billion pounds - growing by almost 50 per cent in the last year alone. And I am working with industry to address the problems relating to Sukuk and other investment products, and to ensure that the regulatory and tax treatment is fair for consumers of Sharia compliant products.

British professional services firms are also leading the way in Islamic business services - with English commercial law now the law of choice. For example Allen & Overy advised the investment banks on the Dubai Ports World Sukuk.

All these developments are vital to increasing trade with the UAE and countries across the region. We want to make London the partner of choice for Islamic investment and that is a key theme of my visit and meetings today."

World Islamic Banking Conference

"European Islamic Investment Bank to host Corporate & Investment Banking Summit at the 13th Annual WIBC", AMEinfo, November 8, 2006

The European Islamic Investment Bank, the first independent Shari'ah-compliant Islamic investment bank authorized by the FSA, will be the Corporate & Investment Banking Partner of the World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain from December 9 - 11.

Shari'ah harmonization

"Harmonisation Of Syariah Laws In Islamic Banking Vital", Bernama, November 8, 2006

The deputy governor of the Malaysia Central Bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, speaking at the International Syariah Scholars Dialogue was quoted, "there is no harmonisation among players in the Islamic banking business. Some of the products are not acceptable in certain countries". The deputy governor advocated the growth in the number of scholars and harmonization of Shari'ah standards.

$210 billion in Islamic financial assets in the Gulf region by 2010

"'Gulf Islamic bank assets to hit $210bn by 2010", Gulf Times, November 8, 2006

A top executive at the Qatar Islamic Bank has projected that all Islamic financial institutions (banking, finance & insurance) will have assets totalling $210 billion in the Gulf region by 2010.

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