APPGIF Office Holders Lord Alderdice, Lord Sheikh and Baroness Uddin welcomed almost 30 Islamic finance stakeholders to Millbank House on Monday 4th March 2019 to discuss export finance and global opportunities for the UK Islamic finance industry.
Lord Sheikh provided an update on a recent meeting between the APPGIF (Lord Sheikh, Stephen Timms and Baroness Uddin) and Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen MP. At this meeting Mr Glen reiterated the Government’s aim to maintain the UK’s position as the leading western hub for Islamic finance which was welcome news for stakeholders. Lord Sheikh then shared the key discussion points from the meeting with stakeholders invited to share their thoughts on:
- Alternative student finance
- Shariah compliant start-up loans
- Legal and regulatory issues (Capital Gains Tax and Consumer Credit Act)
Over the last year a small APPGIF working group has been looking into awareness and understanding of Islamic finance. Lord Sheikh invited Gatehouse Bank to provide an update on progress and they outlined their plans to commission some market research to explore this issue.
Baroness Uddin advised that the Government is committed to the Women in Finance Charter, indicating that she is keen to work with stakeholders to further this agenda. Stakeholders were encouraged to engage with the Change The Script initiative that increase awareness of inclusion issues relating to women and financial services.
Lord Alderdice explained that his interest in Islamic finance stemmed from the interfaith conflict work he has been in involved in in Northern Ireland. In particular, since the economic crisis, Lord Alderdice has been seeking to understand the role of faith within an economic model that has failed.
After the initial updates from the APPGIF the focus moved to the main theme for the meeting. Given the growth in the global Islamic economy and the trade opportunities that may arise from Brexit the meeting went on to explore export finance from an Islamic finance perspective as well as global opportunities for the UK based Islamic finance industry.
Paul Walsh (Head Of Business Group, Aerospace) and Gareth Waterhouse (Underwriting Manager) outlined UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) ability to provide Shariah compliant financing structures (including guarantees and currency finance) to support overseas projects with some level of involvement from UK organisations.
UKEF is the British Government’s export credit agency with 100 years history of innovation and financial support to assist UK’s ability to trade with overseas partners. It differentiates itself from peers with its ability to provide financing under Islamic Finance structures and this session will be an opportunity to understand this capability and how it can be utilised for new trading prospects.
Salim Kawadri (Head of Inward Investment, Banking and Asset Management – Financial Services Organisation) at Department for International Trade then shared his insights on global Islamic finance trends and opportunities for the UK Islamic finance sector.
The meeting concluded with a lively discussion where stakeholders were able to pose questions to the speakers.