London Now A Key Islamic Finance Centre

Boris is on a mission: Mayor of London meets his Beijing counterpart during six-day trade visit to China

Boris Johnson appeared temporarily distracted during a meeting with Beijing Mayor Wang An Shun

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Kazi Mahmood London has emerged as the key Western centre for Islamic finance, acting as the leading financial centre with specific provisions made to spearhead the sector with the British government support, UK minister Greg Clark said. During his recent visit to Malaysia, Clark who is also the financial secretary to the Treasury of the UK, said it could not be denied that Islamic finance played a role Malaysias changing skyline, saying London will also see the same. We have seen how the skyline of Kuala Lumpur has changed in recent years, and Islamic finance played a role in this but what is little known by travellers to London is how the recent developments there were also touched by the sector, Clark said. It is important for us to learn from this country in terms of whats being done here in the Islamic finance sector, he said. Clark said Islamic finance assets in London is today estimated at 19 billion (RM96.9 billion), and that is why the UK is willing to develop the sector even further. UK also offers a secondary sukuk market which is today valued at US$5 billion (RM16 billion). We have taken some efforts as the UK government to remove, for example, some of the dual taxation policies and extend tax reliefs to the Islamic finance sector, Clark said in an interview during the recent Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum. London has 20 international banks and they are offering Islamic financial services. Six of these are fully Shariah-compliant, the minister said, adding that the UKs largest accountancy firms have a Shariah expert providing advice to UK and international financiers on Islamic finance. Londons interest in Islamic finance dates from the days of the HSBCs push to serve its Muslim customers with Islamic finance products in 2003. However, 10 years later in 2013, the UK government launched its first Islamic finance task force, co-chaired by Clark and Baroness Warsi, a senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The task force will help to cement Londons status as the western hub for Islamic finance by showcasing the UK as the preferred choice for the Muslim world to invest in and do business with, a statement from the www.gov.uk website said. It also indicated that the task force will support development of the UKs Islamic finance sector, increasing inward investment and strengthening the economy. The task force will include major industry figures to ensure that the UKs offer is promoted at home and abroad by both the public and private sector, the statement said. UK intend to use Islamic finance to facilitate inward investment and strengthen the UK economy, including through our ongoing support for Sovereign Wealth Funds looking to invest in UK infrastructure.

Or so it seemed for Boris Johnson when he became temporarily appeared distracted during a meeting with his Beijing counterpart Wang An Shun. He certainly seemed diverted as women dressed in traditional Chinese clothes brought in refreshments at the Beijing government offices yesterday. Boris Johnson appeared temporarily distracted during a meeting with Beijing Mayor Wang An Shun The two traditionally dressed women brought in refreshments during the meeting between the two mayors The Mayor of London was in the country to drum up investment interest in the capital and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Beijing mayor to work together on measures to improve science and the environment. His visit to the country coincides with a trip by George Osborne. 3,600 new laws in three years as EU strangles UK firms: Brussels’s ‘addiction’ to red tape laid bare as it’s revealed it would take 92 DAYS to read all the regulations Mr Johnson appeared to admit he had little warning of the timing of the Chancellor’s trip but said he was ‘absolutely thrilled’. Both the London Mayor and Mr Osborne have long been touted as successors to David Cameron as Conservative Party leader and their visits come at a time of thawing relations following a diplomatic row over the Prime Minister meeting the Dalai Lama last year. Both Mr Osborne’s and Mr Johnson’s trips have been in the pipeline for months but the timing of the Chancellor’s visit was revealed more recently than the Mayor’s. Mr Johnson is visiting Beijing to drum up publicity for London. He is pictured riding a Boris Bike during a trip to the London Universities International Partnership showcase event Mr Johnson stressed he was ‘very pleased’ that Mr Osborne was visiting while admitting the timing was handled by the Government. Talking to reporters at an event to promote British brands in Beijing, Mr Johnson said: ‘I feel very, very pleased that the Government at all levels is reflecting on the importance of China. ‘It’s great that George is coming, I think we’re doing a double act tomorrow at Peking University and that will give us a chance to stress that the UK is one of the world capitals of education. ‘London has more higher education institutions than any other city on Earth, although Beijing apparently has even more than London, we gloss over that detail. ‘And there’s an opportunity for us collectively both as London government and as national government to talk up the links between London and China.’ Boris Johnson said he is ‘absolutely thrilled’ that George Osborne is in China at the same time as him Asked if he was surprised that Mr Osborne and the Government chose to visit at the same time, he said: ‘I think this was a question that was handled by the Government and the Foreign Office and I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s worked out in the way that it has because I think it just adds to our ability to get our message across and I think it shows our Chinese friends the seriousness with which we take our engagement with China.’ Asked if officials at the Treasury or Government spoke to him before arranging Mr Osborne’s visit, he said: ‘There’s been a long process of working on this trip to maximise the impact and I hope it will be very successful.’ Mr Johnson and Mr Osborne’s visits will cross over tomorrow with a speech at Peking University.