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Gulf Leaders Share Thoughts On Restoring Confidence

by Lorys Charalambous, Tax-News.com, Cyprus

28 November 2008


Five prominent industry leaders from the Gulf region proposed their ideas for restoring confidence in the economy at a session held on the second day of the Dubai International Financial Centre Forum on Wednesday.

The industry leaders outlined a wide range of solutions to repair trust, inject liquidity and restore confidence in the crisis-ridden global economy.

Victor Chu, Chairman of First Eastern Investment Bank Limited suggested that increasing bilateral trade between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) would revive the economy by combining their liquidity and resources to rebuild markets and restore confidence.

“The reconnection is made easier by the fact that China and the GCC region can create economic and cultural synergies. Arab and Asian markets are connected by their high emphasis on trust and their cultural affinities. We are a bigger voice representing emerging markets,” he said. “The reconnection is already happening,” Chu pointed out. “Chinese investments are already coming to the region and China is inviting Saudi oil companies to invest in China,” he added.

Georges Makhoul, Managing Director of Morgan Stanley, urged governments in the region to pursue what he called ‘sunshine policies’ to get confidence back in the economy. He said that it was critical for governments to adopt higher standards of corporate governance and transparency.

“When everything is going right, nobody wants to think about the mundane issues of governance and transparency. A majority of countries in the region do not have clearly stated policies. Not having an idea of what the policy is can be more damaging than having a policy that people disagree with,” Makhoul said. “Given the critical role that governments play, it is important that they lead the way. Only when we do that will we get confidence back,” he added.

Sameer Al Ansari, Chief Executive of Dubai International Capital LLC urged GCC countries to “seize the day” and use their liquidity to start making strategic investments into leading global companies over the next two years. He urged them to use reserves acquired over the last five years and diversify investment into areas which will bring employment opportunities to the region.

Arif Masood Naqvi Founder and chief executie officer of Abraaj Capital Limited urged the GCC to generate trust between the government and companies to soothe fears and restore calm.

Jacques Kemp, CEO of ING Insurance Asia/Pacific advised governments and corporations to "reframe the issue” and look at it as an opportunity. He spoke about being optimistic about the opportunities, which the current economic climate can bring to some businesses, especially those with reserves – “with these ideas, you might find solutions that can lead to confidence,” he suggested.


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