SARAJEVO: Malaysia has been urged to expand its Islamic banking to Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the rising interest in such products and services, according to the countrys first Islamic bank CEO.
Amer Bukvic of Bosna Bank International made an impassioned plea to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to encourage Malaysian banks to capitalise on their expertise in Islamic financial banking and invest here.
He said Europes big financial groups were slowly moving towards that direction but they did not have the expertise and experience compared with Malaysia.
"And this is where Malaysia has the edge. You should move fast to benefit from the increasing interest in Islamic banking," he said when elaborating on his question to the Prime Minister during the Malaysia-Bosnia and Herzegovina Business Forum on Thursday.
Apart from Islamic banking, issues ranging from as diverse as terrorism and barter trade to halal and mineral water and health spa products were raised during Abdullahs dialogue with more than 700 Malaysian and Bosnian businessmen and captains of industry.
Bukvic said Malaysia was, in fact, indirectly represented in the country as his bank was established by the Islamic Development Bank of which the Malaysian government was among the owners.
However, he said, Malaysian banks should expand directly to the Bosnian market since it had a well established Islamic financial system covering banking, insurance, Takaful and other products.
He noted that there were 34 European banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, all of which were making huge profits as the financial sector was well regulated..
Their investments are in excess of one billion euros as the top few banks alone are worth around 100 million euros each, said Bukvic, who is an alumni of the International Islamic University in Petaling Jaya.
He added the state faculty was establishing an MBA in Islamic finance due to the rising interest in such products.
In his response earlier, Abdullah urged the Malaysian delegation to take note of Bukvics remarks about the prospects of expanding Islamic banking services to the country.
The prime minister stressed that Islamic banking was not exclusively for Muslims but for non-Muslims too.
He added that Malaysias commercial and foreign banks had Islamic windows while some Islamic banks specifically set up by businessmen or banks from the Middle East were doing very well.
Their support, he added, came not only from Muslims but non-Muslims as well as they wanted to take advantage of the Islamic banking and financial services.
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