Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Intra-Regional Trade And Investment The Way Forward In Rebuilding Global Economy, Says Taib
July 27, 2010 12:14 PM
From Mohd Iswandi Kasan Anuar
OXFORD, July 27 (Bernama) -- The Muslim world and indeed the whole world, needs to belief that intra-regional trade and investment is the way forward in rebuilding today's global economy, says Chief Minister of Sarawak Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
All countries should make wise decisions for the long-term and initiate bold reforms to make them competitive in a new world economic order to succeed and not retreat or return to the old status quo.
He pointed out that the surge in oil prices in 1970s, had set the stage for Arab countries to become major investors.
The recent further rise in oil prices, he added, had enabled OPEC nations to become major investors with more than US$500 billion annually in current account surplus.
"Unlike in the past, most of this money is being sent to Islamic financial institutions.
"As a result, even some western governments, are trying to adjust to the change. For instance, Britain is now preparing to sell Syariah compliant treasury bonds," he said in his keynote address at the Inaugural Oxford Global Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum here on Monday.
The theme of his address was,"The Role of Muslim Nations in Rebuilding Today's Global Economy."
Taib said Muslims in general, would continue to look for food that has been certified Halal and financial services products, that are compliant with the Syariah and according to the Quran.
This includes fashion, combining the latest trend in the west, with Islamic principles of modesty.
Currently, the halal market assets are variously estimated to be between US$1 trillion to US$2 trillion, which bodes well for the development of various halal hubs worldwide as no single hub can cater to the need of Muslims, he explained.
"To achieve this, linkages can be established between regional hubs to ensure coordination and standardisation of halal products," he said.
Taib said the growth of the Islamic financial market over the past few years had been remarkable, as the number of financial institutions had grown to over 600 with a presence in more than 75 countries.
He said the Islamic asset under management now stood at about US$750 billion and is expected to hit US$1 trillion by year-end, while the global sukuk alone is already valued at approximately US$153 billion.
"The challenge before us is to build a new financial architecture that would allow for a more efficient functioning of not only financial intermediation within national economies but also across borders," he added.
According to Taib, the global business community must be mindful that a Islamic lifestyle does not necessarily mean anti-Western nor modernity.
"Though the majority of Muslim consumers' lives are defined by the dietary, lifestyle and financial rules of Islam, Muslims are far from being completely homogeneous," he said.
He said Muslim nations are very much part of the changes taking place in the global economy and the international financial system.
He said the pace of economic and financial integration among Muslim nations and other economies, should gain momentum, driven by structural factors by the conscious policy put in place in the enabling environment and by benefits derived that are mutually rewarding.
"The evidence in this decade has demonstrated that more integrated and cohesive Muslim nations contribute towards balanced global growth. Resilient Muslim nations also contribute to greater global economic stability.
"While a better connected world in this new phase of globalisation will bring new vulnerability, it also brings with it the promise of new opportunities,relationships and partnerships in the world economy," he highlighted.
The two-day Forum beginning Monday, was organised by the Said Business School, University of Oxford, of which the Tanjung Manis Halal Hub is one of the lead partners.
Tanjung Manis is a Sarawak state government project, as a component of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).