US studying features of Islamic banking
Md. Rasooldeen | Arab News
Robert M. Kimmitt, US deputy secretary
of the Treasury, right, and US Ambassador Ford M. Fraker at the press
conference held at the US Embassy in Riyadh
on Saturday. (AN photo by Mohammed Rasooldeen)
RIYADH: The US
government is currently studying the salient features of Islamic banking to
ascertain how far it could be useful in fighting the ongoing world economic
crisis, Robert M. Kimmitt, US
deputy secretary of the Treasury, said at a press conference held at the US
Embassy here yesterday.
Kimmitt, who is on an official visit to the Kingdom, also
held discussions with Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf. Today, he is scheduled
to meet Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) Gov. Hamad Al-Sayari, Saudi
Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Gov. Amr Al-Dabbagh, Prince
Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, and Saudi
investors and bankers. He said that the agenda for the G-20 summit to be held
in Washington on Nov. 15, has to
be carefully prepared since important topics are to be discussed in just one
day. "I am not sure that Islamic banking will also be itemized in the
agenda, but it is a subject that is often dwelt in the public and private sectors,"
he noted. He said that experts in the US Treasury Department are currently
learning the important features of Islamic banking.
However, he added that his country is focusing on activities
of various governments and central banks in tackling the economic issues. He
pointed out that the member countries in the G-20 also includes Islamic
countries such as Indonesia and Turkey,
besides the Kingdom which has been a member for the past 10 years.
Representatives from these countries could present their experiences of Islamic
banking in the light of the prevailing situation.
He hoped the G-20 summit will provide an effective platform
for the member countries to exchange their views on the current economic
problem and lay out a plan for the countries to draw out their respective
national plans to ease the situation.
Commenting on his meeting with Al-Assaf, Kimmitt said the
items that could be included in the agenda were also discussed. "The
geographical representation from member countries would provide a broader view
of the crisis and would also benefit the non-member countries through their
experiments," he added.
The G-20 summit, said Kimmitt, was proposed by Europeans
which was readily accepted by President George W. Bush, who is seeking a common
response to the global crisis.
Spelling out the purpose of his visit to Saudi
Arabia, Kimmitt said that he has been
associating with the Kingdom for more than two decades, but this is a
significant visit since he was coming to the Kingdom at a time when there is a
threat to the global financial market. "It's an opportunity for me to
present the US perspective ... and hear from the Saudi leadership on the
current situation in the Kingdom and in the region," he said, adding that
even at a time of crisis, US wants to stress its commitment to tell the
countries in the region of the US open investment policies.
Pointing out that a good number of American investors are
coming to the Kingdom, Kimmitt said the US
government expects reciprocation in the same manner. The deputy secretary is
slated to visit the United Arab Emirates,
and Iraq where
he would meet the leadership and investors on similar lines.