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Global financial markets forum ends in Abu Dhabi and says that UAE’s largest trading partner is India with about US$75 billion in 2013

ABU DHABI, 6th March 2014 – The 6th Global Financial Markets Forum, organized by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), was ended on 5th March at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development said the two-day forum, which attracted the world’s leading experts and decision makers, had bolstered UAE’s image.In the opening speech of Nasser Ahmed Al Suweidi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and Board Chairman of the NBAD, delivered on his behalf by Dr. Al Tahir Musabah Al Kindi, he said the forum provides a dynamic and interactive platform for discussing the major issues of financial sectors.

Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Global Market said about the growing importance of investment flows and commerce travelling from West to East. For the UAE, this is already a path well-worn. In fact our relationship with Asia has been ongoing for centuries. “It was the triangular lateen sail, pioneered by Arabs, that gave maritime travelers the courage to sail closer to the wind, enabling them to cross the Indian Ocean. And it was our ancestors’ innovative system of navigation, based on astronomy, that allowed them to learn the east-west line from studying the arc of the moon,” he said.

India is already the UAE’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade reaching an estimated US$75 billion in 2013. Established to enhance trade and investment flows between the two nations, the second meeting of the UAE-India Task Force is convening this week.

There is also evidence of long distance maritime commerce between the land making up the UAE and India and Pakistan starting from 3,000 BC. Sailors from our region successfully traveled to China as far back as 2,000 years ago. And on our own soil here, archeological sites have uncovered fragments of imported oriental pottery from China, Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam. “We are very proud of the way we sustained ourselves and our neighbors, in peace, based on mutual respect for different cultures and interests. Without the wider horizon of Asia and Africa, the UAE would not have prospered in the past.

This blueprint of exchange between the UAE and the world beyond continues to the present, and promises to grow in the future as this country becomes an even greater influential hub for global commerce, he added.

Speaking about Abu Dhabi’s ambition for a global financial centre and why the forthcoming development of Abu Dhabi Global Market is a natural next step for the Emirate and the UAE, Al Sayegh said in 2008, consistent with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and with the support of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and now Vice-Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the Government published its Economic Policy for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The 2030 Economic Policy called for an industry clustering strategy based on sectors in which Abu Dhabi has a natural competitive advantage or an existing base or a critical mass of assets. “As a result, we have seen sectors such as real estate and tourism, aviation, logistics, energy, and media – among others – begin to flourish. A healthy financial services sector is not only identified as one of the nine pillars in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, but as illustrated in major cities globally, it is an integral component to developing and sustaining a diversified economy.

The Emirate has a robust and successful finance heritage – with a well-diversified portfolio across asset classes, geographies and sectors that all share the same deliberate and long term view of investment.” This includes entities such as ADIA. For almost 40 years, ADIA has practiced prudent investing that looks beyond economic cycles to deliver sustained, long term financial returns. The Abu Dhabi Investment Council, established in 2007, has gained a similar reputation for its globally-diversified investment strategy. IPIC, established in 1984, which invests in the hydrocarbons and related sectors across the globe, in December reported total assets of almost US$65 billion. Mubadala is another example. As an active investor for more than a decade with a portfolio valued at more than US$55 billion, Mubadala – the Arabic word for ?exchange’ – is an integral agent in the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy.

Recently named the “Safest Bank in the Emerging Markets” by Global Finance, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, incorporated in 1968, reported total assets of almost US$90 billion in 2013, an eight percent increase over the previous year. First Gulf Bank, with reported total assets of US$46 billion in 2012, has been building its international wholesale banking franchise since 2007. Today they have a network offices stretching from Libya to Hong Kong.

These, he continued, and other investment vehicles, already act as Abu Dhabi’s financial ambassadors in the world’s major financial markets. Together, this portfolio is responsible for more than US$1 trillion of assets. And thanks to their commitment and success, Abu Dhabi’s long-term policies towards economic investment have earned the Emirate a global reputation for strong returns, transparency and stability. “We have been guided by international standards of governance and accountability with investment teams who are equally comfortable operating in Abu Dhabi as they are on Wall Street, in the city of London or in Hong Kong. It was notably ADIA that co-led the development of the Santiago Principles which the world’s Sovereign Wealth Funds are now applying.

Our bilateral trade relationships are also a testament to the Emirate’s and the UAE’s global economic footprint.” Al Sayegh went on to say: If we look to the East, our commerce is steadily increasing. In fact, research conducted by HSBC predicted that by the year 2030, the UAE’s top export destinations will include India, China, Japan and Korea.

2012 trade figures between the UAE and China, according to customs statistics, totaled US$40.4 billion, with a reported 14% increase in the first half of 2013. Also of significance, approximately 60 percent of China’s trade to the UAE is then re-exported to Africa and Europe, making the UAE a critical Gulf country for this Asian powerhouse.  Japan was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the UAE following its Federation in 1971. The trading relationship between Japan and Abu Dhabi pre-dates even that critical moment in our history. Now, more than four decades later, the total annual value of trade between the UAE and Japan stands at approximately US$51.4 billion, with hydrocarbons playing a significant role.

And there are numerous other examples of the importance of the UAE’s role as a conduit for global trade.  Establishing The Global Market on Al Mariah Island is, therefore, a natural next step in Abu Dhabi’s role as a dependable and responsible participant in the global financial community. Al Sayegh spoke about Al Mariah Island, home to Abu Dhabi Global Market.

Designated by the Urban Planning Council to be the capital’s Central Business District – or CBD – Al Mariah Island is a major catalyst in the city’s drive to achieve Abu Dhabi’s “Urban Structure Framework Plan” objective of environmental, economic and social sustainability by 2030. “Al Mariah Island will be many things to many people. For current and future residents of Abu Dhabi, it will offer a holistic model for urban living; As Abu Dhabi’s new thriving CBD, it will welcome 75,000 working professionals; And for those in the finance sector – from local entities to large multi-nationals – Al Mariah will be an industry cluster that allows them to operate in a tax-free environment as wholly-owned private entities. With all of these powerful elements, it is easy to see how Al Mariah Island will be a dynamic hub. Within Al Mariah Island, Abu Dhabi Global Market will create a financial free zone that is part of the Abu Dhabi Government’s long term vision for economic diversification. The Abu Dhabi Global Market aims to promote the Emirate as a leading market for financial services and activity across the world, and in doing so, further strengthen the international profile and position of the United Arab Emirates within the financial sector and more broadly. Abu Dhabi Global Market will develop as many other successful Abu Dhabi initiatives have – by exercising a deliberate approach in measurable phases that allows us to continually build upon our expertise and assets, and persistently grow – sustaining local, regional and international collaborations.

Abu Dhabi Global Market will have its own judicial system and legislative infrastructure, under three independent Global Market authorities: Its Registration Bureau; A Financial Services Regulations Bureau And its own Court system. The formation of these authorities is currently underway, as is the appointment of the Senior Management Team. The Global Market will be led by industry professionals who are familiar with how markets operate and evolve, and who fully understand the dynamics of trade, capital and investment flows among the world’s leading financial centers. At the heart of Abu Dhabi and the Global Market is the premise of long-term partnership and collaboration – locally, regionally and internationally.

“To this end, over the past four months, we have initiated a comprehensive process of consultation with local and international stakeholders, seeking counsel and discussion on the strategic direction of this new entity. Locally, we sought the experience and feedback of senior executives from more than 20 UAE institutions, ranging from the Central Bank of the UAE and local banks to investment vehicles and other free zones.

Internationally, we have gained valuable insights from International Financial Centers, including Singapore and the City of London. We were very pleased to recently welcome Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Fiona Woolf to our Global Market complex.” as discussions are also underway with the global giants of the financial sector, he continued: “Overall, we are pleased to share that there is already strong support for this initiative.

Furthermore, there is an understanding that we have an opportunity to leverage the strengths of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. I very much agree with my colleague, DIFC Governor Essa Kazim, who believes that there are opportunities for two complementary financial hubs that will put the UAE at the centre of a regional economy covering the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” He said that consultative discussions have also highlighted: The opportunity to foster an even more robust financial services sector in the UAE, based on characteristics inherent to Abu Dhabi and the UAE, such a significant investable wealth and assets locally and regionally; The potential for new investment areas derived from structural changes in the pensions and insurance markets in the UAE; The Emirate’s abundance of natural resources, which can provide the basis for an active commodities market.

“We are providing a robust, well-regulated platform enabling member companies to transact business within a tax-free environment and with the support of an internationally-recognized legal jurisdiction. The nature of the business transacted within The Global Market will, to an extent, be dynamic, determined by its members and evolve over time.

These are some of the preliminary findings of the consultative process that is ongoing, and which will feed into the development of Abu Dhabi Global Market as we move forward, and ultimately, we believe, contribute fundamentally to its success. Please, we welcome your input. Another cornerstone for the Global Market will be its role as a place of education and training, where young people can learn and contribute to global best practices; where eager university graduates can build a network of global connectivity, and where we will create meaningful employment opportunities for UAE nationals.

At the heart of the Global Market strategy is the same confidence that has been the over-riding factor in all of Abu Dhabi’s efforts towards economic diversification. It is a confidence borne out of ambition rather than necessity. And, we will continue to take the time to put the right foundations in place to ensure a successful outcome. Today, based on the UAE’s longstanding heritage and track record in the financial sector, we have the clear opportunity to create and become a leading global financial marketplace.” He concluded his speech by saying: We will deliver a global financial centre within what will be Abu Dhabi’s thriving CBD and it will be another manifestation of the UAE’s unique international outlook and demographics.”

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (L) talks during Global Financial Markets Forum in Abu Dhabi March 4, 2014.

During the  Forum panel, former U.S. Secretary James Baker as well as former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also attended.  Bernanke said that the U.S. central bank could have done more to fight the country’s financial crisis and that he struggled to find the right way to communicate with markets. “We could have done some things on the margin to mitigate somewhat the crisis,” Bernanke, 60, said on Tuesday 4th March in his first public speaking engagement since he stepped down in January after eight years heading the Fed. “Although we have been very aggressive, I think on the monetary policy front we could have been even more aggressive.”

Bernanke said he could now speak more freely about the crisis than he could while at the Fed – “I can say whatever I want” – and in remarks to over 2,000 bankers and financial professionals in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, he made clear that he had regrets. Bernanke received at least $250,000 for his appearance at the financial conference staged by National Bank of Abu Dhabi NBAD.AD, the UAE’s largest bank, according to sources familiar the matter. NBAD did not announce the fee. Another former heavyweight in U.S. economic policy, ex-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, spoke at the Abu Dhabi event and criticized some aspects of Fed policy under Bernanke, although he acknowledged that policy needed to be expansionary.

Photo (L to R): Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, Governor of the Central Bank of UAE, Choongsoo Kim, Governor of the Bank of Korea, and Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the European Central Bank, at a panel discussion in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, 5th March 2014.
Photo (L to R): Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, Governor of the Central Bank of UAE, Choongsoo Kim, Governor of the Bank of Korea, and Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the European Central Bank, at a panel discussion in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, 5th March 2014.

In the panel discussion, Kim paid tribute to the close economic and commercial relationship between the UAE and South Korea, saying that he believes in 2014 central banks around the world “will move from accommodative monetary policy to the basics.”

Dr. Ghalib Al-Mashoor, Investment Manager of Treasury & Investment Department of United Arab Shipping Company (a multi-billion Shipping company owned by 6 GCC Governments) manages multi-million capital assets since 2001 said that he never expected such a wonderful speakers and personalities from United States such as Bernanke, Lawrence and James Baker. Other speakers included Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank, led the list of topnotch global economic leaders on the second day of the Global Financial Markets Forum 2014 in Abu Dhabi. The Emirates Palace played host to the likes of Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

Dr. Al-Mashoor met more than 100 Senior bankers and economists during the 2 days event and exchanged their views of mutual economic interesting matteres. Some of the important personalities were  Alex E. Khayat, Chief –External Portfolios, Treasury Dept of Arab Monetary Fund, Khaled Nabil Khorshid, Senior Vice President & Head of Syndications of Union National Bank, Girish Shenoy, Director Group, Treasury of DP WORLD, Juan Carlos Garcia, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Industrial Projects Co.(ADNIP),  Derek Rozycki, Executive director of MUBADALA, Shantha Balasuriya, Head of Global Treasury of Commercial Bank of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Attorney: Venon Cassin, Law office of Mohanned bin Saud Al-Rasheed, Stephen Oxley, Managing Director of Pacific Alternative Asset Management Co. London, Duncan Alvarez, Treasurer of ExxonMobile Qatar Inc., Qatar,  Dr. Ibrahim El Badawi, Director of Macroeconomic & Forecasting, Dr. Abdelrazzaq Faris Al-Faris, Chief Economic Counselor, Dubai Economic Council, Govt. of Dubai, Richard Soundardjee, Chief Executive Officer- M.E. of Paris based  Societe Generale,  Ihsan Khelef, Director, Corporate Finance of German based Commerzbank, Abdullah Al-Ahmadi, Interarab Cambist Association, Lebanon,  Salim S. Layyous, Vice President of Consolidated Contractors Company, Hisham A. Al Razzuqi, Former Chairman of Gulf Investment Corporation, Kuwait,  Ali Lawati, Finance Manager of Oman investment Fund, Oman, Govindarajan Iyengar, Senior Manager Trasury & Banking of ETIHAD Airways, Muneer Fulayfil, Wael Salloom of BNP Paribas, BahrainMohand Chabane, Product Specialist Manager, Superderivatives, London, Fahad Ahmed Al Shaer, Managing Director, Rita Dugar Chief Financial Officer of Abu Dhabi National Islamic Finance (ADNIF), Leo Lee, Chief Finance Officer of CHINA State Construction Engineering Corporation, Tove Widlund, General Manager of BENTLEY, Dubai, Santhana K. Murali, Manager Credit Business, Lari Exchange,  M.K. Yousef Ali, Chairman of Lu Lu Group international, Saifee T. Rupawala, Chief Executive Officer, of Lu Lu Group international, Dr. B.R. Sheety, Chief Executive Officer of NMC Healthcare, UAE Exchange * Neopharma. Yousef Mohammed Al-Mohannadi, Investments Portfolio Manager of BARWA Bank, Qatar, Faiq Hussain, Senior Vice President, Money Market, FX & Arbitrage, ARAB Petroleum Investments Corporation, Saudi Arabia, Noor A. Abid Sharif & Hussain AbdulHaq, Head of Treasury & Capital Markets of AL SALAM BANK, Bahrain

Pascal BLANQUE, Deputy, Chief Executive Officer of AMUNDI Asset Management, France with Dr. Al-Mashoor

Hussain AbdulHaq, Head of Treasury & Capital Market, AL-SALAM Bank, Bahrain, Arjun Bhadran, Senior Manager, Rashed Al-Makhawi Enterprises, Filippo De Rosa, Senior Manager, SAXO Bank (Dubai) Limited, Abdulrazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, Bank Muscat, Oman, Hani M. Al Jazzaf, Managing Director of ALBOURNE Partners Limited (MRNA), Bahrain,  Mirza Danish Beg, Manager Structured Finance & Syndications, Emirates Islamic Bank, Dhananjay Uplekar, Group Treasury Manager, Al-Futtaim Private Company, Anupam Alok, Head Treasury, ICICI Bank, Bahrain, Sheldon W.Woldt, Executive Director, M.E., London based Northern Trust Bank, Kunal Chowdry, Head of Compliance, Legal & Internal Controls of RAKBANK, Tarek Menhem, Associate, Global Markets, Mabkhoot Al Menhali, Chief Financial Officer, National Petroleum Construction Company, Chafic Jabbour, Senior Manager, CANDRIAM Investor Group, Tuan Ahamath, Head of Money Markets & FX Forwards, NOORBANK,  Carsteb H, Girst, Head of MENA, FX & IRS, BGC Brokers LP Dubai, Manoj Kumar, Manager, Syndications, International  Commercial Bank, Murat Alabas, Business development Manager, AKBANK (Dubai) |Ltd. Emad Yousef Al-Monayea, Board Director & CEO of KFH Investment, Kuwait, Karim Adouane, Treasury & Global Markets Group of First Gulf BankKhurram Ali Miraza, Head of Asset Liability Management, OSOOL, Bahrian


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