Astana International Financial Center (AIFC)

#China’s support is critically instrumental in developing Islamic finance

While China and Arab countries discuss ways to develop their bilateral ties, #Kazakhstan aims to become a new global financial hub. At the newly established Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) an economic event was carried out between July 3rd and 5th to talk about the main issues of global finance. Experts have emphasized China has a priority role in the global economy and that China’s support can be very instrumental in the development of Islamic Finance. Kazakhstan has also positioned itself to take advantage of China’s Belt and Road initiative as it strived to draw investors from Central Asian countries as well as from the Arab world. Lawyers have also stressed that because the newly formed Astana International Exchange will be operating under the principles of English common law, it will create even more opportunities for collaboration between Central Asian countries and the Arab world.

AIFC: Development of Islamic Finance

Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) aims to be the driver of the Islamic finance development in Kazakhstan. For this, the AIFC is strengthening its capacity building by establishing the Bureau for Continuing Professional Development. AIFC managing director Yernur Rysmagambetov said two programs habe been launched. One of them is aimed at the training of specialists for the banking sector. The second program is focused on literacy of the end users on Islamic finance. The corporate sector is the main customer of the Islamic banks in Kazakhstan. Attraction of the retail customers in the Islamic finance is another trend of the past years.

#Kazakhstan eyes sovereign #Sukuk, central Sharia board

Kazakhstan plans to issue sukuk in the coming months as part of its efforts to develop Islamic finance in the country. Alibek Nurbekov, head of the Islamic finance at the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), said the final legislative changes to allow issuance of sovereign sukuk were nearly complete. Issuance of sovereign sukuk is planned in the first half of 2018 in total up to $300 million dollars. The sale would follow sukuk issued by the Development Bank of Kazakhstan in 2012, a deal that raised 240 million ringgit ($61.51 million) via the Malaysian market. Nurbekov added that a central sharia board would be established in the first half of the year, while rules covering Islamic insurers and a fund for Islamic endowments are also planned.

#Kazakhstan, #Malaysia plant seeds for green Islamic finance

Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) has gained the support of technology financier Malaysia Debt Ventures (MDV) to develop both green and Islamic finance in Kazakhstan. Under a newly agreed MoU, AIFC and MDV will work closely with each other to share best practices, expertise and knowledge in these two areas. Apart from sharing knowledge, both parties will also explore financing green projects using Islamic financing tools. While not fully operational yet, AIFC is keeping busy by setting the groundwork. Green finance received a huge boost earlier in January when the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development agreed to launch the Green Financial System for Kazakhstan project, financed by Finland. With eyes on a comprehensive green financial system, engaging MDV could culminate in a variety of Islamic financial products for sustainable eco-friendly projects including green Sukuk.

#Kazakhstan envisions emergence as finance hub for Central Asia

Kazakhstan is currently working on the launch of its new Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) in order to become a financial hub for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), West and Central Asia. It is part of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev's vision entitled 100 Steps to lift Kazakhstan into the world’s 30 most developed nations by 2050. The creation of the AIFC is step 70 in the programme. Its regulatory framework is modelled after the Dubai International Financial Center and will open avenues for investors within the Eurasian Economic Union between Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Plans are to attract more than $350bn in foreign investment and to issue a total value of $91bn in sovereign bonds, mostly sukuk. The launch of the AIFC is anticipated for 2018 after the country will have had hosted the Astana Expo 2017 in the capital from June 10 to September 10 next year.

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