ASIA'S closer economic and financial ties with the Middle East will add impetus to the expansion of Islamic finance globally, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday.
The increasing connectivity between the two regions comes even as Islamic financial activities here have kept growing over the past year, said Mr Lim, who is also deputy chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
He was giving the opening address at the World Islamic Banking Conference held at the Pan Pacific Singapore hotel.
"The broadening and deepening of economic and financial ties between Asia and the Middle East, the two major centres for Islamic finance, will also provide further impetus for future growth of Islamic finance globally," he said.
Mr Lim noted that the economic ties between the two regions have grown beyond the energy- related sector, with non-energy trade fast expanding.
Already, 40 per cent of the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) non-oil exports are to Asia, said Mr Lim. The GCC comprises the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
He added: "Saudi Arabia is the leading petrochemical supplier to China's textile industry, and China's exports to the GCC are estimated to be growing by 30 per cent annually."