IFN CIS Forum: Kazakhstan Forum To Attract Global Players

Iran Pursuing Regional Economic Cohesion With CIS

REDmoney events, in partnership with Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), will be organising the IFN CIS Forum on March 14, in Astana, Kazakhstan. The event is expected to draw market players and regulators from key Islamic finance markets globally and from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a press note issued by Kazakhstan embassy here stated.

In the last five years, CIS markets have started an active integration process toward the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union. The treaty came into effect in 2015 and aims to create a powerful, attractive centre for economic development. Islamic finance may become one of the strongest driving forces toward the effective development of a large regional market that unites more than 170 million people, as the Islamic finance market is attractive due to its demographics and strategic location, as well as being blessed with an abundance of natural resources.

Kazakhstan, which introduced its Islamic finance law in 2009, has continuously worked on bolstering the regulatory environment for Shariah finance by amending the legislation over the last few years, covering areas such as fully-fledged Islamic banks, corporate Sukuk, Takaful, Ijarah as well as Tawarruq. The latest amendment came in November 2015, which paved the way for a possible sovereign Sukuk issuance and conversion of conventional banks into Islamic. These amendments put Kazakhstan in a unique position within the CIS region as the only country with such progressive Islamic finance legislation, and could act as a catalyst for other CIS governments to consider following in Kazakhstan’s footsteps.

According to the Thomson Reuters Islamic Growth Markets Investment Outlook report, in 2015 Kazakhstan was ranked 5th as an Islamic investment destination country among 57 OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) member countries. Kazakhstan became a member of the OIC in 1995 and took over the chairmanship of this respected international organization for one year in June 2011. Furthermore, Kazakhstan has been making strides with a number of international Islamic organisations in recent times, as exemplified by the MoU between the AIFC and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector to explore possible avenues for collaboration in developing the private sector, including the Islamic financial services industry.

The IDB has also reiterated its commitment toward Kazakhstan to provide technical support in the fields of development and Islamic finance, as well as to promote ties and strengthen economic relations with the Central Asian country. The CIS region has seen encouraging activity in recent years, including new issuances, regulations as well as a growing number of local and foreign institutions starting to offer Shariah compliant services – while the global market is also paying attention to the region as investors seek to diversify and tap new markets. The current geopolitical situation provides a further catalyst for the CIS region to develop its Islamic banking and finance capabilities.