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Hong Kong Braces Itself For Islamic Finance

Vanessa Doctor

12 November 2009

Hong Kong is ready to join the roster of Asian countries offering Islamic finance, a senior official has said.

In a speech at the Nikkei Inc-sponsored Islamic Finance Symposium last week, professor K C Chan, the secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, said that Hong Kong holds a highly conducive platform to develop Islamic finance.

"Our sound financial services infrastructure and well-established legal system make Hong Kong an attractive location for such investments," Mr Chan was quoted in a press release. "We believe is well placed to become a centre for Islamic finance in Asia."

Professor Chan noted the presence of many reputable financial institutions that have been offering sukuk products and asset management services to both individuals and institutions. Hong Kong's unique advantage, he said, is its unrivalled role in bridging the Mainland, the world's fastest growing economy, to the international market. Several legislative amendments to the tax regime are currently being done to level the playing field for sukuk and conventional products, he added.

His comments come at a time the Islamic finance sector is reflecting double-digit growth in Shariah compliant assets and Islamic financiers are starting to look for new territories. So far, in Asia, Malaysia has revealed itself conducive for Islamic finance and has been housing shariah houses for the past years. Recently, Singapore also expressed interest in taking part of the growing shariah pie.