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, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq where he would meet the leadership and investors on similar lines.