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France to host round tables on Islamic finance

PARIS, April 24 (KUNA) -- The French Senate, or upper house of parliament, announced here Thursday that it is organizing two round table discussions May 14 to examine the role France can play in attracting Islamic funds and the opportunities opening up to work with Islamic funds on international finance markets.
The sessions will be presided over by the Senates Finance Commission president Jean Arthuis and will include participants from a variety of financial and investment bodies.
The first round table will examine "the integration of Islamic finance in the global financial system" and seek to determine the challenges for France in this area, the Senate said in a statement.
According to the statement, Islamic funds are now valued at around 700 billion dollars and have a "recognized growth potential" but these funds remain centred in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where they continue to grow.
"This growth is drawing strong interest, including in Europe, where many are asking what way they can integrate this alternative finance beside conventional activities," Arthuis said in announcing the meetings.
He noted that as of 2004 Britain stands out in this area because it made necessary adaptations "by proposing adapted services to the Muslim community thus making the City of London the place of reference for Islamic finance." At the first round table, there will also be a discussion of how French operators can work with the Islamic funds by respecting the specific conditions that govern them, specifically Islamic law.
Participants at the first round table will include Zubeir Bin Terdeyet, Director of Isla Invest, Maya Boureghda, a legal counsellor at BNP Parisbas, Anwar Hassoune, vice-president of Moodys rating company, Vincent Lauwick, SGAM Asset Management, London, Jean Francois Pon from the Federation of French Banks and Gilles Saint Marc, a lawyer from AARPI.
The second round table will address "the development of Islamic Finance" and the requirements to adapt legislative or regulatory frameworks to work with these funds.
This round table will especially examine "juridical or fiscal obstacles that may prevent the development of Islamic finance in France," the Senate said.
This could relate, for example, to the way banks receive Islamic banks on (French) soil, or to the juridical and fiscal structures that need to be put in place to integrate Islamic finance into the French system, all the while respecting the conditions employed by the Islamic banks.
Questions on financial instruments, such as Islamic bonds (sukuk) and other investment products will be addressed at the second round table, which will include participants from Western investment institutions and draw on the experience of London as a financial centre working with Islamic finance.
France has been reflecting, both at government and private level on how to increase its financial activities with sovereign funds in the Islamic world and Senator Nathalie Goulet, vice-president, of the France-Kuwait Friendship Committee recently told KUNA that this is becoming an area of strong focus for the French and that France wanted to intensify contacts on how cooperation could be enhanced with Gulf countries in the area of sovereign funds and their investment in this country. (end) jk.rk KUNA 241559 Apr 08NNNN