Islamic finance players urged to capitalise on growing inter-regional trade

SINGAPORE - Singapore's ambassador to Kuwait has urged industry players in Islamic finance to take advantage of the growing trade between the Middle East and South-east Asia.

Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed said it was imperative for Singapore, the region and the Middle East to come together and develop the Islamic finance industries.

He was speaking at the 5th World Islamic Banking Conference on Tuesday.

Speakers from CIMB Islamic and OCBC Al-Amin Bank also discussed ways to make Islamic finance mainstream in key domestic markets and the cross-border opportunities between Asia and the Middle East.

Mr Syed Abdull Aziz Syed Kechik, chief executive of OCBC Al-Amin, the bank's Malaysia-based Islamic banking unit, said the sukuk market continues to be one of the thriving forms of Islamic finance, shown by its rapid growth over the past few years in the core markets of South-east Asia and the Middle East.

"The international footprint of sukuk has also expanded with many new sovereign and corporate issuers from new countries looking to tap the market," he said.

He noted there are several challenges that leading industry players are now addressing "to ensure international connectedness between the major markets for Islamic finance".

Mr Wasim Saifi, chief executive of Standard Chartered Saadiq, said: "Regulatory frameworks continue to develop at different paces across various jurisdictions and it is becoming increasingly vital that collaborative efforts are made across the industry to ensure more successful global connectedness."