The Arab banking sector  should play a bigger role to attract capital and boost investments in productive sectors across the region in a bid to create more job opportunities and fuel growth, chairman of the Lebanese Banks Association Joseph Torbey said Wednesday.
“The global financial crisis  has exposed the vulnerability of the international financial system particularly after the eurozone debt crisis ,” Torbey said, speaking at the “Arab Banking Conference 2012,” which was held in Abu Dhabi.
“Restructuring the flow of Arab capital would pave the way for a rapid development in the region’s financial sector,” Torbey added, stressing that the sector is well prepared to take on a more integral role in the Arab world’s economy.
Torbey said these funds would pave the way for investments in the region’s productive sectors and create jobs as an essential step to re-establish social and economic regional stability. He also warned that deep political changes still pose a risk to the region’s economies.
“We fear that the Arab Spring would transform into a bitter winter if the region moves from fragile stability to full-scale chaos,” Torbey said, calling for further integration among Arab economies to take full advantage of the various resources spread across the region.
Torbey’s remarks were echoed by the head of the Union of Arab Banks , Adnan Ahmad. Ahmad said that Arab revolutions, despite bringing positive political change, continue to have significant economic costs.
“Tunisia and Egypt lost over $37 billion in stock markets alone,” he said, cautioning that losses in the tourism and oil sectors have been soaring. Ahmad urged the Arab financial sector to lead economic recovery in the region.
“We hope that the steps toward the establishment of an Arab common market will be finalized in three years,” Torbey said adding such a step “would allow the establishment of a Arab central bank and a common currency by 2020.”