France to host round tables on Islamic finance

Economics 4/24/2008 3:59:00 PM

PARIS, April 24 (KUNA) — The French Senate, or upper house of parliament,
announced here Thursday that it is organizing two round table discussions
May 14 to examine the role France can play in attracting Islamic funds and
the opportunities opening up to work with Islamic funds on international
finance markets.

The sessions will be presided over by the Senates Finance Commission
president Jean Arthuis and will include participants from a variety of
financial and investment bodies.
The first round table will examine “the integration of Islamic finance in
the global financial system” and seek to determine the challenges for France
in this area, the Senate said in a statement.
According to the statement, Islamic funds are now valued at around 700
billion dollars and have a “recognized growth potential” but these funds
remain centred in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where they continue to

“This growth is drawing strong interest, including in Europe, where many are
asking what way they can integrate this alternative finance beside
conventional activities,” Arthuis said in announcing the meetings.

He noted that as of 2004 Britain stands out in this area because it made
necessary adaptations “by proposing adapted services to the Muslim community
thus making the City of London the place of reference for Islamic finance.”
At the first round table, there will also be a discussion of how French
operators can work with the Islamic funds by respecting the specific
conditions that govern them, specifically Islamic law.

Participants at the first round table will include Zubeir Bin Terdeyet,
Director of Isla Invest, Maya Boureghda, a legal counsellor at BNP Parisbas,
Anwar Hassoune, vice-president of Moodys rating company, Vincent Lauwick,
SGAM Asset Management, London, Jean Francois Pon from the Federation of
French Banks and Gilles Saint Marc, a lawyer from AARPI.
The second round table will address “the development of Islamic Finance” and
the requirements to adapt legislative or regulatory frameworks to work with
these funds.

This round table will especially examine “juridical or fiscal obstacles that
may prevent the development of Islamic finance in France,” the Senate said.
This could relate, for example, to the way banks receive Islamic banks on
(French) soil, or to the juridical and fiscal structures that need to be put
in place to integrate Islamic finance into the French system, all the while
respecting the conditions employed by the Islamic banks.

Questions on financial instruments, such as Islamic bonds (sukuk) and other
investment products will be addressed at the second round table, which will
include participants from Western investment institutions and draw on the
experience of London as a financial centre working with Islamic finance.

France has been reflecting, both at government and private level on how to
increase its financial activities with sovereign funds in the Islamic world
and Senator Nathalie Goulet, vice-president, of the France-Kuwait Friendship
Committee recently told KUNA that this is becoming an area of strong focus
for the French and that France wanted to intensify contacts on how
cooperation could be enhanced with Gulf countries in the area of sovereign
funds and their investment in this country.


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