Your Excellencies, Governors of the GCC Central Banks,
H.E. Assistant Secretary-General,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the 64th meeting of the Committee of Governors of Monetary Agencies and Central Banks in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which will address a number of significant topics to pursue more achievements in the monetary, banking and financial sectors. I am also pleased to thank H.E. the Secretary General, Dr. Abdul Latif Al Zayani; the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs, Mr. Abdullah Al Shibli; and all colleagues at the Secretariat General for their on-going efforts and support for this committee and its sub-committees and groups.
In its 36th session held in December 2015 in Riyadh, The Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed the vision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques regarding the enhancement of the GCC joint action, and applauded its noble goals that called for reinforcing and supporting the GCC march and its international and regional standing. This vision is consistent with the orientation of Their Highness, the GCC leaders, towards enhancing cooperation among the GCC states and building on the achievements that have been made in various sectors, including the economic and financial sectors. Against this backdrop, this meeting agenda includes a number of key topics that will contribute to the enhancement of economic and financial cooperation and integration among the GCC countries and reinforcement of economic gains of the Gulf countries.
The IMF latest forecasts suggest a continued global economic growth by 3.4 percent with varied growth rates among the various regions of the world. These projections do not rule out the persistence of some challenges that may impact the global economy, especially the geopolitical challenges, recent fluctuations in global financial markets and challenges faced by emerging economies. The GCC countries are not isolated from the impacts of such changes. Since the start of oil price plunge in mid-2014, the effect of oil market developments on the GCC countries has been brought into focus. However, due to the fiscal surpluses accumulated by the Gulf economies in the previous economic cycle, they have been able to confront such challenges and pressures. They also have recorded good real growth rates while maintaining accustomed economic welfare free from inflationary pressures. Moreover, commercial banks have continued to fulfill their anticipated role of financing various economic activities in the private sector and providing banking and financial services in a healthy, competitive environment. In this context, I would like to seize this opportunity to applaud the robustness of the banking systems in the Gulf countries as a result of prudent supervision by the GCC monetary agencies and central banks in accordance with the best domestic and international principles and standards. The GCC countries have also been able to maintain the stability of prices and exchange rates in domestic markets, and have affirmed to continue comply with exchange rate policies adopted by each country.
The current stage, especially with the developments in the global oil markets, has created challenges at the level of public finance and other levels. Some member countries have resorted to finance deficits by borrowing, revisiting the fees of some services and reducing subsidies for others to eliminate the adverse impacts on the markets and ease the burden on state treasury, and diversifying the economic base by exerting further efforts and pursuing the work towards structural reforms.
In continuation to the GCC joint action, the meeting agenda includes discussion of the latest developments in the area of linking the GCC payment systems. This project has reached very advanced levels following dedicated efforts by professional members of the Payment Systems Technical Committee and under support and guidance of Their Excellencies, the Governors. Needless to say, the finalization of the payment system linking project will be a key step in promoting the financial position of the region; facilitating the clearing and settlement of cross-border financial transactions in a secure and effective manner and at a lower cost; establishing an infrastructure allowing for swift, unified and secure transfers of payments within the GCC countries. This will eventually facilitate trade and enhance investment and tourism among the member countries.
The meeting will also address an important and persistent issue, namely working towards harmonized banking supervision standards in the GCC Countries to be in line with international standards and practices, especially the BCBS principles, and financial regulations issued by the Financial Stability Board and international and regional committees specialized in establishing accounting standards. The Committee continues its work today to establish a framework to facilitate the exchange of credit information among GCC credit information centers with the aim of enhancing the soundness and effectiveness of the financial and banking sectors, and promote financial inclusion and customer protection.
Furthermore, the meeting will discuss the latest developments in the area of combating money laundering and terrorism financing within the framework of international standards and principles and FATF regulations to ensure that domestic banking laws are immune against financial crimes. The meeting will look into the latest developments in cooperation with international organizations and central banks in other regional gatherings, such as central banks of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN +3) and the European Central Bank, to serve collective interests and enhance the exchange of expertise. And as usual, the Committee will discuss the latest economic, monetary and banking developments in the six member countries.
I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Your Excellencies and colleagues at the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council, hoping that we all continue the enhancement of cooperation and coordination to support the GCC joint action to achieve the aspirations of our leaders and citizens. I wish all success to your meeting.