(MENAFN - Arab News) Aman Union members have contributed 17.4 billion in investment and export insurance for OIC countries this year, said its Secretary-General Dr. Abdel-Rahman Taha.
"The insurance support given by the union this year is 17.6 percent more than that of 2010 when it gave 15.06 billion," he pointed out.
Addressing the union's third annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Taha expressed deep concern over the prevailing uncertain economic outlook globally.
"The union is now holding its 3rd annual meeting in difficult economic times that will require more effort in the industry to face these challenges," said Taha, who is CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), an affiliate of Islamic Development Bank.
"We believe this forum is playing a critical role in bringing the industry captains together to create a collective impact to advance the future of the credit insurance and reinsurance industry in Islamic and Arab countries," said Adissadikin Ali, managing director and CEO of EXIM Bank Malaysia.
The meeting was jointly organized by EXIM Bank, ICIEC and the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (Dhaman).
Malaysia's Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussin officiated the gathering, which assembles commercial and non-commercial credit and political risks insurers and reinsurers from member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.
"It was a ground-breaking event for the global Islamic business community to meet, interact and transact business," said Taha.
The forum brought together over 80 participants from partners in the field of export credit insurance. A number of special invitees and speakers and panelists including Mohammed Emir Mavani Abdullah, director, oil, gas & energy and financial services performance Management and Delivery Unit and Dr. Frederico Gil Sander from the Multilateral investment guarantee agency (MIGA) attended the event.
The Aman Union Database Center was officially launched during the meeting. "The Aman Union Database is the first of its kind and is established for the benefit of national export credit insurance agencies in the Arab and Islamic countries," said Taha.
"We are confident that the establishment of this database center will help in solving issues on reliability and cost of credit information in our region," he said. "This will enable members of the union to share and exchange their underwriting knowledge and experience on."
Aman Union was launched under the leadership of ICEIC, and Dhaman. The union is the first organization that brings together investment and export credit agencies in the Arab and Islamic world under one umbrella.
"It aims at enhancing cooperation among Arab and Islamic export credit institutions and encouraging the development of investment and export credit insurance industry in its member countries," an official statement said.
The union also offers technical assistance to establish new agencies while also enhancing the insurance capacity of existing agencies.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), a member of the IDB, entered into an agreement recently with Tunisia's deposits and consignment fund Caisse des Dpts et Consignations, CDC, a Tunisian public institution, to launch the largest Shariah-compliant SME fund known as Theemar Investment Fund in the country.
Taking the initiative by creating an integrated solution to the problems of financing for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the fund, with a capital of around 2.33 billion and an outlay of 30 million regulated by Tunisia's financial market board Conseil du March Financier CMF, is expected to provide additional growth capital to the SMEs.
The fund will be helping SMEs contribute to economic development and additional employment opportunities within the Tunisian economy. It is worth noting that the SME sector is considered the backbone of the Tunisian economy.
On the occasion, Jamel Belhaj, CDC general director, said that with their shared mission, CDC looks forward to enhancing cooperation with the ICD through this innovative product especially tailored for Tunisia.
On his part, ICD Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al-Aboodi expressed happiness in contributing toward the economic development of a member country through this dedicated equity product.
The Theemar Fund is being launched with the additional support of KIPCO Group, a major holding company in the Middle East and North Africa, the Al Baraka Bank Tunisia and the United Gulf Financial Services " North Africa. It also benefits from the support of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), another member institution within the IDB Group.
Theemar is expected to address most financing issues that face SMEs from equity to technical assistance through direct and mezzanine investments utilizing Islamic modes of financing. By concentrating on growth capital for relatively new businesses, the Fund is likely to reduce volatility normally characterized with SMEs.