KIB Chair­man opens An­nual Arab Bank­ing Con­fer­ence 2016 in Beirut

‘Lob­by­ing for Bet­ter Arab - In­ter­na­tional Bank­ing Co­op­er­a­tion’

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

BEIRUT: Sheikh Mo­ham­mad Al-Jar­rah Al-Sabah, Chair­man of Kuwait In­ter­na­tional Bank (KIB) and Chair­man of the Union of Arab Banks (UAB), called for the es­tab­lish­ment of an Arab bank­ing con­sor­tium, as a means to pre­vent in­ter­na­tional banks from as­sum­ing con­trol of Arab banks and other fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions. Jar­rah said that these eco­nomic con­sor­tiums will al­low banks to chan­nel some of the Arab in­vest­ments cur­rently be­ing made abroad into lo­cal in­vest­ments within Arab states. This will in turn lead to a boost in new projects, cre­at­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties and driv­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment across the en­tire Arab re­gion - in ad­di­tion to help­ing stem ter­ror­ism in the re­gion.

Ac­cord­ing to Jar­rah, the idea of cre­at­ing an Arab bank­ing con­glom­er­ate stems from a be­lief in the fun­da­men­tal need for co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion within the bank­ing sec­tor. It is also driven by the no­tion that co­op­er­a­tion will help mo­bi­lize hu­man cap­i­tal, con­serve and max­i­mize re­sources, and build ca­pac­i­ties. This co­op­er­a­tion is a perquisite to build­ing a solid foun­da­tion rooted in peace and sta­bil­ity, and a key com­po­nent to­wards achiev­ing bal­anced, sus­tain­able and com­pre­hen­sive de­vel­op­ment, said Jar­rah.

Eco­nomic sanc­tions

Jar­rah’s state­ment came as part of his open­ing ad­dress at the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the An­nual Arab Bank­ing Con­fer­ence 2016, which took place in Beirut on Novem­ber 24th and 25th at the Phoeni­cia Ho­tel. Or­ga­nized by the UAB, un­der the pa­tron­age of Prime Min­is­ter Tam­mam Salam, rep­re­sented by Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of De­fense Samir Mo­q­bel, the con­fer­ence was held in part­ner­ship with the Bank of Le­banon (Banque De Liban), the As­so­ci­a­tion of Banks in Le­banon and the World Union of Arab Bankers, and was at­tended by a num­ber of in­flu­en­tial eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, in­clud­ing: Fouad Sin­iora, For­mer Prime Min­is­ter, Amr Moussa, For­mer Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the League of Arab States, Sheikh Mo­hamad Al-Jar­rah Al-Sabah, Chair­man of the UAB, Riad Salame, Gov­er­nor of Banque du Liban, Dr Joseph Tor­bey, Chair­man of the World Union of Arab Bankers and Pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Banks in Le­banon, Ad­nan Kas­sar, Pres­i­dent of the Le­banese Eco­nomic Or­ga­ni­za­tion, Dr Sa­har Nasr, Min­is­ter of In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion of Egypt, Ghada Al­wali, Min­is­ter of So­cial Sol­i­dar­ity of Egypt, and Wis­sam Fat­touh, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the UAB.

In his speech, Jar­rah ap­plauded the role the UAB plays in en­hanc­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of Arab banks around the world, pro­mot­ing a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the strength and in­tegrity of these in­sti­tu­tions in an ef­fort to al­le­vi­ate the eco­nomic sanc­tions im­posed on some of the Arab states. He also lauded the UAB’s ef­forts to har­ness the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Arab bank­ing sec­tor to drive greater so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment - call­ing upon banks in the re­gion to unite and align their ef­forts, en­cour­ag­ing them to in­vest their ca­pa­bil­i­ties within the Arab re­gion.

The re­spon­si­bil­ity of peace

Jar­rah ex­pressed his con­cerns over the tur­moil cur­rently tak­ing place in the Arab world, with the re­gion be­com­ing over­whelmed with wars, con­flicts, refugee crises, ter­ror­ism, and strug­gles of ev­ery kind - lead­ing to the de­struc­tion of cities and de­mol­ish­ment of in­fra­struc­ture, not to men­tion the in­cred­i­ble toll this has had on the economies of Arab states. As the re­gion finds it­self shrouded in un­cer­tainty and as it strug­gles to find peace and sta­bil­ity, Jar­rah said peace ceases to be­come an achieve­ment, but rather a re­spon­si­bil­ity for gov­ern­ments and key po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic pow­ers, in­clud­ing the bank­ing sec­tor. As a pil­lar of the eco­nomic land­scape, the bank­ing sec­tor can be a key con­trib­u­tor to the peace process by tak­ing an ac­tive role in restora­tion and re­build­ing ef­forts, as well as help­ing to boost the econ­omy by cap­i­tal­iz­ing on its fi­nan­cial and hu­man re­sources. Jar­rah also noted that the bank­ing sec­tor en­joys an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing trust-wor­thy and cred­i­ble, largely due to its ad­her­ence to in­ter­na­tional prac­tices and stan­dards. Other fac­tors which have con­trib­uted to this rep­u­ta­tion in­clude the sec­tor’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to re­main­ing cur­rent with all the lat­est fi­nan­cial and tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions, as well as the in­dus­try’s ded­i­ca­tion to in­vest­ing in its hu­man cap­i­tal and build­ing ca­pac­i­ties, in or­der to em­power these tal­ents to lead the de­vel­op­ment process.

Within this con­text, Jar­rah noted that avail­able data has shown that the Arab bank­ing sec­tor’s as­sets have sur­passed $3.3 tril­lion, and that com­bined de­posits have reached $2.06 tril­lion, whilst loans have ex­ceeded $1.7 tril­lion. He also pointed out that the com­bined as­sets of Arab bank­ing in­sti­tu­tions, which num­ber at about 500 in­sti­tu­tions, are val­ued at about 109% of the GDP and ex­ceed the to­tal value of the Arab econ­omy.

An Arab lobby

Ad­dress­ing the con­fer­ence in his open­ing state­ment, Jar­rah said: “Through this con­fer­ence to­day, the Union of Arab Banks is look­ing to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of es­tab­lish­ing an in­ter­na­tional Arab bank­ing lobby, stem­ming from the Union’s com­mit­ment to pro­mot­ing fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity and eco­nomic co­he­sive­ness de­spite the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity chal­lenges the world is cur­rently fac­ing. Key amongst these chal­lenges is the drop in oil prices to his­tor­i­cal lows, which has re­sulted in over $360 bil­lion in losses for the oilde­pen­dent GCC states, not to men­tion the neg­a­tive im­pact this has had on eco­nomic growth rates across the en­tire Arab re­gion.”

Jar­rah fur­ther warned against the con­se­quences of the mi­gra­tion of do­mes­tic cap­i­tal. He also warned against the eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal de­pen­dency that is incurred and ex­ac­er­bated due to for­eign debt, par­tic­u­larly in cases where bor­row­ing coun­tries are sub­jected to eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions which ben­e­fit cred­i­tor na­tions, and which lead to cen­sor­ship and in­ter­fer­ence in in­ter­nal af­fairs in some form or an­other. Ac­cord­ing to Jar­rah, the in­te­gra­tion of Arab fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions into the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial sys­tem puts the for­mer at risk of be­ing frozen by

Trans­parency and ob­jec­tiv­ity

In his clos­ing words, Jar­rah thanked Prime Min­is­ter Tam­mam Salam, rep­re­sented by Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of De­fense Samir Mo­q­bel, for his pa­tron­age of the con­fer­ence. He fur­ther praised the Le­banese Cap­i­tal of Beirut for al­ways wel­com­ing its Arab and In­ter­na­tional guests with open arms, laud­ing its will­ing­ness to al­ways of­fer a friendly and fer­tile en­vi­ron­ment for open di­a­logue of all kinds. Jar­rah con­cluded by wish­ing all par­tic­i­pants suc­cess in ad­dress­ing the con­fer­ence top­ics with ut­ter trans­parency and ob­jec­tiv­ity, in an ef­fort to set the groundworks for the es­tab­lish­ment of an Arab bank­ing lobby ded­i­cated to build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture for the economies of Arab states.

Jar­rah also an­nounced that the UAB will be hold­ing its next con­fer­ence un­der the ti­tle: “In­vest­ing in Pales­tine”, which is set to take place dur­ing the first week of De­cem­ber 2016 in the Jor­da­nian cap­i­tal of Amman. This con­fer­ence seeks to high­light the ur­gent need to mo­bi­lize all Arab bank­ing pow­ers to strengthen the Pales­tinian econ­omy and its bank­ing sec­tor.

Con­fer­ence agenda

Over a pe­riod of two days, the “Lob­by­ing for Bet­ter Arab - In­ter­na­tional Bank­ing Co­op­er­a­tion” con­fer­ence dis­cussed a num­ber of top­ics which ad­dressed var­i­ous sen­si­tive, im­por­tant and rel­e­vant eco­nomic is­sues. At­tended by a num­ber of key in­flu­en­tial fig­ures, de­ci­sion mak­ers and ex­perts, the con­fer­ence also hon­ored a num­ber of promi­nent Ara­bic eco­nomic fig­ures.

One of the main dis­cus­sion top­ics on the con­fer­ence pro­gram was “The ef­fects of in­ter­na­tional and Arab po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments on the bank­ing sec­tor”, which ex­plored the im­ple­men­ta­tion of laws and reg­u­la­tions based on po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial ob­jec­tives, as well as the im­pact of ter­ror­ism, tax eva­sion and money laun­der­ing on the bank­ing in­dus­try. The dis­cus­sion also touched upon the need to cre­ate an Arab bank­ing con­sor­tium and how to es­tab­lish in­ter­na­tional trust in it. Ad­di­tion­ally, par­tic­i­pants ad­dressed the role of the Arab bank­ing sec­tor in fi­nanc­ing eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial in­dus­tries within the con­text of the law, as well as the im­ple­men­ta­tion of fi­nanc­ing poli­cies that fo­cus on eco­nomic sec­tors, and fi­nally the im­pact of in­ter­na­tional leg­is­la­tion on the fi­nanc­ing poli­cies of Arab Banks.

BEIRUT: Sheikh Mo­ham­mad Al-Jar­rah Al-Sabah, Chair­man of Kuwait In­ter­na­tional Bank (right) speaks dur­ing the Arab Bank­ing Con­fer­ence 2016.

Western gov­ern­ments, as has al­ready hap­pened with sev­eral Arab na­tions.

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