Doha Bank hosts conference in Kuwait on Asia-GCC economic cooperation

Press release
Published March 15th, 2015 - 06:28 GMT
During the event
During the event

Doha Bank today hosted a conference in Kuwait on developing economic and trade relationships between Asian economic powerhouses such as China and India and countries in the fast-growing GCC region. Titled “Synergetic Opportunities between Emerging Asia and the GCC”, the conference – which brought together regional and international experts from diverse fields such as banking, finance, and investment and trade consulting – also discussed emerging trends in the banking sector.

The event held at JW Marriott Hotel Kuwait City was the latest in a series of high-profile conferences and seminars hosted by Doha Bank in recent months across the GCC region to promote greater understanding around key banking and economic trends and provide a platform for enhanced cooperation between entities from different business sectors.

Giving the opening address at the conference, Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group CEO of Doha Bank, emphasized how closer financial integration between the GCC and Asia can benefit both markets and foster economic rebalancing. “Over the last two decades, the GCC States have experienced rapid economic growth, driven by oil and gas revenues and booming financial services and tourism sectors. This period also saw the region emerging as a major investment destination for infrastructure projects. To drive the next stage of growth, the GCC should look to integrate more closely with the Asian financial system to boost resilience and enhance its economic cooperation with countries such as China and India which have been fuelling the global growth engine. China, Hong Kong, Singapore and India had attracted significant foreign direct investment in 2014.India has consistently been among the top 10 trading partners of Kuwait. Kuwaiti investments in India are in excess of $ 2.5 billion.  India’s growth is expected to be between 8 – 8.5 percent in FY 2016 and the consumer price inflation was at 5.1 percent in Jan 2015. The current account deficit for FY 2015 is expected to be below 1.3 per cent of GDP and the fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent of GDP for FY 2015 will be achieved. The surge in growth in Indian economy will lead to increased trade and investments between India and GCC. ”

Carli Renzi, Director - Client Insights and Solutions, International Banking, ANZ Singapore, gave a presentation on the Basel III banking reforms and their impact on the banking sector in Asia and the Middle East. Basel III, also known as the Third Basel Accord, is a global regulatory framework for more resilient banks and banking systems which was formulated in 2010 in response to the global financial crisis and the consequent heightened awareness of systemic risk in the banking sector.

“Basel III increases the levels of capital and liquidity that banks are required to hold to meet the minimum standards. The implementation of Basel III across countries within the Middle East is divergent, although predominantly the rules relating to capital are more stringent than the minimum standards proposed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision,” said Renzi.

She added that while conventional wisdom would suggest that bank balance sheets are likely to reduce and risk appetite will shrink, the opposite is also possible as banks compete for scale and operational efficiencies.

Providing an insight into the growing role of the Renminbi (RMB) - the official currency of China - in international trade, Amr El Haddad, Executive Director – MENA, JPMorgan Chase, cited statistical data to illustrate the evolution of the RMB as a global currency. Explaining why overseas corporations are increasingly moving to RMB invoicing, El Haddad noted that companies looking to invest into Mainland China or those buying from Chinese suppliers, as well as companies with substantial two-way intercompany flows with China, stood to benefit greatly from a move to RMB.

Dr. Farzam Kamalabadi, Chairman of Future Trends Group, a China specialist US Corporation engaged in investment and trade consulting, media relations and government lobbying, brought the audience’s attention to the factors driving China’s status as the world’s fastest growing major economy.

“In the last 30 years, China has transformed itself from a command economy inhospitable to overseas investors to an emerging free enterprise market with proper macro-management mechanisms that attract the largest share of global foreign direct investment. The country is now opening up more and more sectors for foreign investors which were earlier open only for domestic investors,” he said.

Citing Finance & Banking, Oil & Gas, and Media, Entertainment & Education as the top long-term growth sectors in China, Dr. Kamalabadi stated that the next 15 years will see a vast increase in the number of Chinese banks - from 1,400 to about 8,000 banks – registering a nearly six-fold growth over this period.

Doha Bank is the largest private commercial bank in the State of Qatar and one of the leading financial services companies in the Gulf region. Established in 1978, the Bank provides individuals and commercial, corporate and institutional clients across Qatar and the region with new and better ways to manage their financial lives.

Background Information

Doha Bank

Inaugurated in 1979, Doha Bank provides domestic and international banking services for individuals, commercial, corporate and institutional clients through four business groups – Wholesale Banking, Retail Banking, International Banking and Treasury & Investments.

Doha Bank has established overseas branches in Kuwait, Dubai (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi (India) as well as representative offices in Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, South Korea, Australia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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