HONG KONG, Nov 30 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will build on its leading position as an Islamic banking leader in the wake of an increasing interest by many countries to tap into the wealthy Islamic capital market, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said today.More and more international financial centres are keenly eyeing the global Islamic finance industry estimated between US$700 billion to US$1 trillion (US$1=RM3.36).Hong Kong is among the latest to join financial centres, including Singapore and Bahrain, to tap the Islamic market."Malaysia started its Islamic banking system about 25 years ago, and we now have a comprehensive and sophisticated model that is unrivalled by other countries," said Nor Mohamed who is accompanying Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on a three-day investment mission to Hong Kong beginning today."Islamic banking is certainly a niche for us and a new growth centre. We have the competitive edge and we have to make full use of it," he told Malaysian newsmen.He said an increasing number of countries including financial hubs like London, New York and closer to home, China, Hong Kong and Japan, were interested in tapping Islamic capital."We have a good Islamic bond market in Malaysia, they can come and issue Islamic bonds in Malaysia and we can coordinate to help them given our experience," said Nor Mohamed.Hong Kong's securities regulators in the international financial hub approved its first Syariah-based retail fund by Hang Seng Bank, a unit of global banking group HSBC.Chief Executive Donald Tsang had said earlier this month that Hong Kong was working to develop an Islamic bond market and would send a mission to the Middle East next year.Nor Mohamed said the growing interest in Islamic banking was positive for Malaysia which had a wide array of Syariah-compliant products and services from bonds to pawn broking."We want to work with other countries, we can contribute in this regard because of our experience, we are up the curve," he said.The Survey Magazine published by the International Monetary Fund said Malaysia is the world's largest Islamic bond market with an estimated value of US$47 billion, accounting for two-thirds of the global total.Malaysia issued its first sovereign five-year Islamic bond or sukuk of US$600 million in 2002.
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Islamic Investment Malaysia: www.islamic-invest-malaysia.com