Austrade media release
4 December 2009
A high-level Malaysian Islamic finance delegation will be conducting Islamic finance seminars in Melbourne today and Sydney on Monday.
The delegation will be meeting with the Australian Treasury, Australia’s industry regulators and other Australian government agencies, financial services associations and hold industry seminars, co-hosted by Austrade and the Victorian and NSW Governments.
Austrade’s Global Manager for Financial Services, Gary Johnston, said Australia’s geographic location presents access to a rapidly growing Islamic finance market.
“Australia is known for its expertise in more complex financial engineering and experience in infrastructure, property, resources and agricultural financing – skills which are highly relevant in the manufacture and development of Islamic financial products,” Mr Johnston said.
“The Australian Government is committed to building on Australia’s financial sector expertise and strong regulatory environment to promote Australia as a financial centre for the Asia-Pacific region.
This visit builds on the meetings Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, held with Malaysia’s financial services sector on Islamic finance during his visit last October, and subsequent discussions with his Malaysian counterpart the Minister for International Trade and Industry in August this year.
Austrade’s Jakarta-based Trade Commissioner and Industry Team Leader for Financial Services in ASEAN, Patrick Kearins, said Malaysia has a mature Islamic financial services sector with 11 local and six foreign Islamic banks.
“Malaysia has a full-fledged Islamic financial system operating in parallel to the conventional banking system. With over 65 per cent of the population being Muslim, the Government is keen to promote Malaysia as a stable Islamic finance hub in Asia,” Mr Kearins said.
“Opportunities for Australian businesses seeking to increase their presence have been enhanced after changes to liberalise Malaysia’s financial services sector and foreign investment laws were announced earlier this year.
“These included allowing foreign investors to own up to 70 per cent of stock broking companies, an increase from 49 per cent, and foreign fund managers to establish 100 per cent foreign owned fund management companies in Malaysia,” Mr Kearins said.
This liberalisation and the ASEAN-Australian-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) which will enters into force on 1 January 2010 will further expand opportunities for Australian businesses in this sector.
The first Malaysian sukuk (Islamic banking term meaning Islamic bonds) was issued in 1990 and by 2007, Malaysia was the largest sukuk market in the world with a total of US$25 billion (according to Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre, 2009).
Austrade, the NSW and Victorian Governments have worked together in supporting the Malaysian delegation which includes officials from Bank Negara - Malaysia’s central bank; Securities Commission Malaysia and several Islamic Banks.
Sarkis Khoury, Senior Media Adviser, Ph: 02 9390-2118, Mobile: 0414 401 072
For further news and information from the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) visit www.austrade.gov.au//mediacentre.