Standard Chartered Bank's Stuart Horsewood will become the first Western banker to set up shop in Baghdad next week. He hopes to issue his first letters of credit within the next 10 days.
Speaking to the International Islamic Finance Forum in Istanbul, Horsewood, Standard Chartered Bank's CEO for Iraq said, “What should take a week to achieve in Iraq presently takes a month, so it is a very frustrating environment for business. Basic communication links are a luxury at the moment.”
He explained that as part of the Trade Bank Iraq consortium, Standard Chartered Bank would first be concentrating on opening letters of credit so to allow the inflow and outflow of funds for imports. This involved the installation of the SWIFT payments system and IP addresses for the first customers are already assigned, he added.
”We will be assisting with treasury functions, Islamic banking and barter deals, indeed anything that will develop the flow of business. The two local banks are working very hard and we will work closely with them.”
Horsewood said that $20 billion in expenditure would be required just to restore services such as water, power, schools and hospitals to a minimum level. He highlighted the enormous opportunities for trade this represented once security issues were addressed in Iraq.
Other speakers in the Fifth Session of the Forum noted that Iraq's neighbors would be the biggest beneficiaries from trade, notably Turkey, Syria and Kuwait.
The International Islamic Finance Forum, which ran from September 29 - October 1, 2003, is organized by Dubai based IRR Holdings. The forum is organized in association with Dow Jones Indexes and Kuwait Turkish Finance House. The major sponsors are National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia and Noriba of Bahrain. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )